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FILM: Local Organizations Team up to Show "Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience"

East Michigan Environmental Action Council - Mon, 08/19/2030 - 8:02pm
What: Film screening of "Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience" with Question and Answer session to follow afterwards

When: September 6th, 2013

Time: 8PM

Where: Cass Corridor Commons
             4605 Cass Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48201

East Michigan Environmental Action Council, 5E, Heru, and the American Indian Health and Family Services invite you to the film screening of, Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience, on September 6th, 2013. The showing will take place in the D. Blair Theater of The Cass Corridor Commons.

Focusing on the lives and experiences of the Native/Indigenous community in the Midwest, Our Fires Still Burn is a one hour documentary that works to dispel the myth that American Indians have disappeared from the United States. The narrative that Native and Indigenous peoples no longer exist in the US has been perpetrated in many forms since the beginning of colonization in the US, with perhaps the most famous example being the book (and movie), The Last of the Mohicans. The narrative usually argues something along the lines that because Native peoples are now dead (or are actively dying), we need non-Native peoples to "save and recover" (read; loot) Native artifacts (very often including actual bones of human beings). Another strand of the narrative argues that names like Washington Red Skins are actually compliments that honor long dead tribes rather than the offensive insults that Native/Indigenous peoples say they are.

Our Fires Still Burns argues that the narrative that Native/Indigenous peoples are dead is harmful in that it invisibilizes and makes unnecessary the voices of the very much alive Native/Indigenous community. But as Our Fire Still Burns shows, Native and Indigenous peoples continue to persist, heal from the past, confront the challenges of today, keep their culture alive, and make great contributions to society.

The film viewing of Our Fires Still Burn will appeal to native and non-Native alike, and will be followed by a question and answer session featuring many of the people appearing in the film, as well as film director Audrey Geyer.  Ms. Geyer is an independent video producer and director whose programs have been broadcasted locally and nationally on PBS. She is the founder and current executive director of Visions, an independent video production company local in Metro Detroit. Visions work focuses on creating documentaries that tell the stories of communities that are underrepresented in mainstream media.

As East Michigan Environmental Action Council co-director, Diana Copeland says, the most important thing to do right now in light of various attacks on marginalized communities in Detroit is to build community responses to those attacks, "Conversations that happen where we can begin to get to know each other are essential and will only make our communities stronger."
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

New Contracts Negotiated for Workers At Two Vermont Social Service Agencies

UE - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 4:29pm
22 October, 2014 Newport

 

At Northeast Kingdom Community Action, Local 221 members unanimously ratified a new three-year agreement reached through contract negotiations which took 12 months.  With the support of the members, the negotiating committee bargained the agreement which includes a 1.3 percent wage increase retroactive to retroactive to December 1, 2013. The agency depends on federal funding and has been adversely affected by the so-called sequester, the automatic cuts in funds to federal agencies set in motion by Congress in 2012. Eleven employees will receive upward adjustments of up four steps on the wage scale, and teachers and home visitors will be placed at the same level on the wage scale. 

There were no changes to the health and dental plans. Each employee gains one additional paid holiday, the worker’s own birthday.

The union bargaining committee consisted of Alison Valley, Lisa Cathcart, LeeAnn Lee and Deb Brousseau, assisted by UE Field Organizer Chad McGinniss.

Rutland

 

Local 225 members at the Vermont Achievement Center ratified a new one year agreement. After rejecting management’s final offer, the local proceeded to mediation and was able to bargain a one year agreement with a 1.5 percent wage increase across the board as well as a new benefit in which the employer will pay for the cost of renewals for workers who carry a professional license. Workers that seek a new license will receive half of the cost of getting their license.

Representing UE Local 225 in bargaining were Patrick Genovesi, Ray Attig and Stephanie Abatiell, assisted by UE Field Organizer Chad McGinniss.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

NO CARS IN L.A. NO TANKS IN L.A.

Labor/Community Strategy Center - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 2:20pm
The Fight for the Soul of the Cities is the Fight for the Soul of the United States. U.S. society is facing a moral, spiritual, economic, ecological, racial, political crisis and is carrying out a war against it own people and the people of the world. At a time when the need for social revolution has never been greater the people are disorganized, demoralized, terrified and alone-but that is beginning to change before our very eyes.

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Categories: Grassroots Newswire

The Climate Justice Youth Academy (CJYA)

In 2006, Hurricane Katrina was a wake up call for many of us across the country. The global climate crisis is at a tipping point. The planet is getting warmer.  Glaciers are melting.  Water is rising.  And we are seeing the extreme weather events that change conditions on the planet radically.

From New Orleans to Haiti and the small island states—communities color worldwide are on the front lines.  We are the first and hardest hit when extreme weather events strike.

As Youth in POWER leader Rosie Balberan put it, “the poorest communities are always hit the hardest.  Hurricane Katrina showed us that we ourselves will have to be ones to protect and look out for the future of our own community.”

The Carbon Question

What is driving the earth’s temperature up?  Carbon.  Global warming occurs when greenhouse gases (GHGs) trap heat in the atmosphere, which makes the Earth warmer. The most common greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide.

The organization 350.org is right when they assert that the climate crisis is reversible.  “It means building solar arrays instead of coal plants… planting trees instead of clear-cutting rainforests… increasing efficiency and decreasing our waste.”

It means getting people out of cars, and onto buses.

At POWER, we have an opportunity to make an intervention, beginning with our youth.  POWER and our sister organization PODER have joined together to create a new project called the Climate Justice Youth Academy.   Together we are training 30 youth leaders as climate and environmental justice experts.  These youth designed a workshop that they are leading with hundreds of other youth across SF and the Bay Area, promoting Free Muni for Youth and encouraging young people to become lifelong transit riders.

The workshop takes a variation on the game of life, and gives young people a hands-on interactive way to develop climate literacy, and to see the connection between transportation choices and environmental sustainability.

POWER has always believed that unless those most affected by systems of oppression are at the front lines of the struggle, we will never see change. We are proud to have our youth leading the way. Juana Tello, POWER’s Youth Organizer reminds us, “the youth aren’t the future, they are the present.”

The Climate Justice Youth Academy gives us a chance to make the link between the Free Muni for Youth victory and the environmental urgency of building a new generation of people choosing buses and bicycles over cars, and fighting for more policies like the youth pass that give our communities the chance to make that choice real.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

A family outing, then a deadly Border Patrol shooting

NNIRR - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 3:00am
Story Type:  Article Story Author:  Brian Bennett & Joseph Tanfani Story Publisher:  Los Angeles Times

It was a family barbecue in a park on the Rio Grande, a belated birthday party for Guillermo Arevalo Pedraza's wife, Nora, and their two daughters, Mariana and Priscila, ages 9 and 10.

Arevalo and his buddy, Josue Gonzalez, were lighting the coals and the girls were playing by the water's edge when they heard the deafening roar of a Border Patrol airboat.

They watched it turn in the fast current and pull beside a man in the river. An agitated crowd soon gathered on the Mexican shore and began shouting at the two agents to let him be.

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Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Join us! Book Release Party & Benefit for PODER & the San Francisco Community Land Trust!

PODER San Francisco - Fri, 10/17/2014 - 2:26pm

October 22, 2014, Sub/Mission Gallery

2183 Mission Street

8:00 pm Reading/9:00 pm Show

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

California Renzenberger Drivers Ratify First Contract, Uniting Them with Chicago Members

UE - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 12:29pm
15 October, 2014Los Angeles

After a four year struggle for a real union and four months of negotiations, including 13 days at the bargaining table, Renzenberger drivers in California have ratified their first UE contract by a margin of more than 96 percent. In a major breakthrough, the union won the company’s agreement that drivers in California and the Chicago area – two of the company’s biggest markets – will be under the same contract, which will expire August 23, 2018.

“In these negotiations, I think we won the battle,” said Ricardo Rodriquez, a member of the bargaining committee and a driver in Barstow. “We got some protections so drivers will be able to work and not be looking over their shoulder wondering whether or not they’re going to get fired or suspended.” Rodriquez is proud that the California and Chicago members are now under one UE contract. “I predicted that we would end up with a master contract, but I didn’t think it would be this soon. When you talk to a driver in the yard and tell them that we’re in a master contract other brothers and sisters in the central states, their eyes open wide and they say, ‘Wow! That makes us stronger.’”

The California drivers prevailed in an NLRB election in January in which they defeated the gangster-controlled incumbent union by a margin of nearly 2 to 1. The election culminated what up to that point was a three-year campaign by these workers for union democracy and representation. The nearly 600 workers, who drive vans to transfer railroad employees to and from work sites, work at 25 rail yards all over the state. They are now represented by UE Local 1077. Other Renzenberger drivers in Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey and Ohio were already covered by UE contracts.

“This is a big victory for democratic unionism and membership mobilization,” said UE Director of Organization Bob Kingsley. “This new local got a resounding vote of confidence with a big turnout and overwhelming margin of ratification, by members along 700 miles of railroad from Northern to Southern California.  This new master agreement brings not only immediate gains and combined strength to win further gains in the future, but also expands UE’s reach in the rail industry, an important strategic base for our union. This win sets stage for additional organizing among rail crew drivers nationwide.”

On wages, the contract will bring $1.55 in increases over four years to the yard rate, which is the base rate for all drivers. In addition workers will continue to receive periodic step increases of 25 cents which will bring them an additional $1 in raises over four years. Drivers will continue to receive the step increases after they reach 10 years of service, which was not previously the case. Each driver also received a $100 signing bonus.

Road drivers – those who make longer trips – receive an additional hourly payment called the road driver differential. The company paid different rates to drivers in different parts of the state. The new contract increases the road driver differential by 50 to 65 cents for those rail yards that were receiving a lower rate in order to reduce these inequities. The new contract adds an additional day of paid time off. Bereavement leave is increased by one day with niece and nephew now covered.

Drivers won a number of important contract language provisions to secure fair treatment. Layoffs, transfers and filling job openings will now be by seniority. To correct short schedules, the contract requires the employer to make “every reasonable effort” to provide drivers with 40 hours of work. Administration of the trip board for road drivers will be improved to provide more fairness in the rotation.

Discipline and discharge shall only be for just cause. The employer has a time limit of five days to impose discipline after the alleged infraction occurred, unless it notifies the driver and the union that it is still investigating, and drivers must be notified when they’re receiving discipline. If a driver is banned from the premises by the railroad, Renzenberger must notify the union and attempt to retain the employee. The work rules will be divided into four categories so that discipline for unrelated infractions can’t be used to fire a worker.

Union stewards will have the right to investigate and process grievances during work hours as long as this doesn’t interfere with their job responsibilities. The union will be provided 20 minutes to address new employees during orientation. Union officers and stewards will be able to take union leave to conduct union business. The company will deduct union dues from members’ paychecks and forward the money to the union.

The new contract was won not just at the bargaining table, but through broader involvement by members on the job. A contract support committee of 84 people helped communicate news from negotiations and get member feedback. After each round of bargaining sessions the union published a newsletter and help update meetings around the state. Stickers calling for “Fair wages” were worn by members all over the state on a designated day in August.

Even before the contract was resolved, the local had trained some three dozen stewards to represent members and had won a variety of grievances, including reversal of two firings and winning back pay for several unjustly suspended members.

Renzenberger drivers in Chicago, represented by UE Local 1177 since 2010, will receive additional hourly wage increases of 35 cents in 2016 and 45 cents in 2017 as part of the settlement.  In addition, they will get improvements in paid time off and bereavement leave.  The Chicago drivers won several important language gains, including increased protections from discipline and seniority protections for both yard and road drivers. 

Malissa Gollagher is a driver from Roseville who was very active on the organizing committee and then the contract support committee. “I’m really proud of the people on the bargaining committee,’ she said. “It took a lot of effort and heartache. I’m sure after we get our union going under the new contract it’s going to help us out a lot. We’ve still got a long way to go – getting our bylaws and electing officers, and getting the company to cooperate. I’m kind of excited to get it going. Everybody did a great job so far, and we’ve just got to keep on trucking.”

For Ricardo Rodriquez the contract was a long time coming. “I’ve had a handle on this struggle for the past four years,” he said. “We lost the first time at the labor board when they ruled against us, but I never lost hope, and UE never gave up on us. We were just waiting for a window. Our battle intensified when we petitioned for UE, and we found ourselves fighting on two fronts, not just to throw out the mob-run company union, but fighting the company too. We were victorious in putting in a true union, UE.”

The Local 1077 bargaining committee consisted of Kandyce Johnson (Stockton), Ricardo Rodriguez (Barstow), Frank Osby (Los Angeles), John Anguiano (Los Angeles), Connie Montoya (West Colton), Marcy Stoeven (Roseville) and Ron Russell (Needles).  They were joined for the final two sessions by three representatives of Local 1177, the Renzenberger drivers’ union in Greater Chicago: Local President Phil Dedera, Larry Hopkins and Clarence Hill. The bargaining committee was assisted by Field Organizer J Burger, who served as the chief union spokesperson in negotiations. International Representative Mark Meinster and Field Organizers Dante Strobino, Fernando Ramirez and Kari Thompson also assisted in bargaining and in member mobilization.  

 

 

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

UE Intl. Rep. Ed Bloch, Activist for Labor and Peace Over Six Decades, Dies at 90

UE - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 12:24pm
15 October, 2014Ed Bloch joins UE Local 332 members and Northeast Region delegates for an informational picket and rally in front of the Ft. Edward GE plant during 2011 contract negotiations.Colonie, NY

Retired UE International Representative Ed Bloch died in his sleep on Sunday, August 24 at his home near Albany. He was 90 years old. Bloch joined UE in 1950 when he got a job in a UE shop, and was hired onto the UE staff in 1951 in New York City. He spent most of his long career with UE in Upstate New York, assisting UE locals and organizing the unorganized. He retired in October 1984 but continued to assist UE locals, especially Local 332 at GE in Fort Edward.

Bloch served the union through some of its most difficult years, when UE was fighting for its survival when it was a chief target of the “red scare” of the 1950s, with attacks by the government, employers, and other unions. His transfer to Albany came after he took several beatings from a gangster-controlled “union” in New Jersey. Bloch and UE Local 404 Business Agent Jose Lugo had launched several attempts to liberate workers in low-wage shops from the company union, and were assaulted by goons each time. Then the mobsters sent a verbal message: “No more warnings for Bloch.” Bloch met with UE Director of Organization Jim Matles who agreed he should move.

Ed Bloch was born in Manhattan in 1924. He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Marines in World War II and fought in Okinawa, earning a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. But when the war ended and Bloch and his unit thought they’d be heading home for victory parades, they instead received orders shipping them to Tiensin, China.

They were warmly welcomed by the Chinese people, but then shocked to witness what he called “the phony surrender” of Japanese troops. After laying down their rifles, and the officers’ swords, Japanese soldiers picked up their weapons again as soon as the cameras left. Bloch’s unit was ordered to fight alongside the Japanese, and Chinese puppet troops who had served Japan during the war, to take sides in China’s civil war, in support of Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang). In November 1945, Bloch’s unit, on his order as platoon leader, opened fire on a Chinese village of unarmed civilians believed to be Communist sympathizers. Japanese units were also in this operation, on the same side as the Americans.

“People in my platoon cursed me out because we had been killing the Japanese and they’d been killing us three weeks earlier. ‘What the hell are you doing here?’ But I was in charge. I just didn’t listen.” Bloch was 21 years old. Following that attack, members of Bloch’s unit was ordered not to go out among Chinese civilians alone or in small groups, because the Chinese were so outraged at what the Americans had done. “It was a farming village. They were just farmers,” Bloch recalled decades later.

The memory of that attack haunted Bloch. He traveled to China in 2011 with his wife, daughter and friends to apologize for what he considered an atrocity. “I’ve waited 66 years for this,” he told one of his Chinese hosts. “Before they pull the sheet over me, I wanted to seek justice,” Block told the Albany Times-Union after the trip. “I felt I had sinned. I needed to make amends.”

A Chinese TV station produced a 20-minute documentary about Bloch’s 2011 visit and the history it illuminated. In the video he describes what the journey meant to him. “It was just relief, relief.” His daughter Linda Ayer, who accompanied Bloch to China along with his wife Naomi and two friends, says in the video, “I really hope that he has found some peace for inside, and I believe, looking at him that he has been able to achieve that.” The filmmakers give Ed the last word: “I guess one of my hopes is that children will be taught in school about this part of history. Some of us felt, to have wars of that kind, where so many civilians were killed, was pretty awful. What we have to do is learn to live together in peace.”

His widow Naomi says that for Ed the China trip was about “redemption. He was able to atone. He felt freed. A woman in China told him, here in the East if someone apologizes for something they have done, they’re forgiven. He really took that conversation to heart.”

Naomi says that the burden of that 1945 incident in China, as well as discrimination he experienced as a Jew in college and in the military, drove Bloch’s lifelong activism for justice and peace, including his commitment to UE. He was active in Veterans for Peace from the Vietnam era until his death. In a wheelchair, he joined the Veterans for Peace contingent in Albany’s 2014 Memorial Day Parade. He would always appear at such events in his uniform, which because of his devotion to exercise, still fit him perfectly. Bloch was also active in building labor-religious coalitions and in the Solidarity Committee of the Capital District, which brought together unions and supporters in the Albany area.

In 1984 and ’86 Bloch ran for Congress against Republican Gerald Solomon, a longtime incumbent. With Republicans holding a big registration advantage in the district, Bloch knew he couldn’t win, but he committed to running twice in order to raise issues and mobilize activists. His campaign platform reflected UE’s policies on national issues: worker rights, economic justice, and peace. 

ED BLOCH’S LEGACY

“I knew Ed for a long time and followed behind him on some servicing assignments, particularly in Upstate New York,” said John Hovis, former UE general president. “You can always tell when a person really does a great job and cares about the people when you follow behind them in servicing locals, and see the legacy that they left. That was especially true with Ed. People really missed him once his assignment was changed. And he was kind of an inspiration to all of us on staff, someone we could always look up to and hope that had the same kind of impact, and stayed as active in both political and union life as Ed was.”

“I met Ed at my first union meeting, 11 years ago,” recalls Scott Gates, president of UE Local 332. “The first time I heard him speak, I was impressed with his insight and the way he dealt with issues, evenhandedly. He knew the company was the enemy but he wasn’t bashing them. He was evenhanded, he was fair, he looked at all sides of an issue. And he loved the UE. I was at a meeting once, years later, and one of the members said something derogatory about the UE. I think Ed was 87 or 88 at the time. He jumped up out of that chair and he slammed his fist and he raised his voice, and he defended UE. Before anyone else could react, Ed already did it. The guy never forgot it.”

Gates adds, “I talked to him in depth about many subjects. He had insight about everything. And he never lost hope that things would get better.” Local 334 Business Agent Angel Sardina said Ed Bloch has always been around as long as he’s worked at GE, for 15 years. “He was here for us every time we needed him. When we went to Albany to talk to the governor he took us there and helped arrange things. He was a class-A man. I’m grateful to have known him.”

UE General President Bruce Klipple said of Bloch, “He actually worked for the union for 33 years, on the official payroll, and then worked another quarter century assisting us in upstate New York, mainly with Local 332. That was incredible dedication, right to the very end, walking the informational picket line with him during 2011 negotiations. I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone who was as devoted to justice and peace as Brother Block. He’ll be remembered for a long time by our members who knew him.”

“Ed Bloch was a good trooper and a good mentor,” said Bruce Reese, former Local 332 business agent and still a GE worker. “He gave me a lot of good advice when I was the business agent, any rally we had, he was always there, no matter whether it was raining, snowing, and he was always ready for a fight. He’s going to be missed.”

“Ed Bloch was an inspirational figure to several generations of UE activists and organizers,” said Steve Tormey, retired international representative who worked with Bloch on GE issues. “He swam in waters that were not always friendly,” Tormey added, such as Bloch’s efforts, often successful, to convince veterans groups to oppose U.S. military interventions.

“He was a friend and mentor to generations of UE activists, local leaders, and organizers, including myself,” said Northeast Region President Peter Knowlton. “He was humble, frugal and honest. He engaged you in conversation and was a great listener. Some would say he was ‘old school’ but I think that generation of UE pioneers gave us something that’s timeless. Whether he was marching in the streets of New York City in 2002, in full military uniform with other veterans to oppose the invasion of Iraq, or talking to members about what needed to be done at a Local 332 membership meeting, Eddie was always the consummate organizer.  Up to age 90, he never stopped teaching and fighting and pushing us to get off our butts and build a better world.”

Ed Bloch wrote and self-published a book, a memoir and collection of essays, titled Courage, Coward, Courage!! Steps Along the Way. His family still has several copies of the book, and if you’d like to obtain a copy, contact the UE national office. Bloch is survived by his wife Naomi, four children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

 

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Victory: Food Service Workers at Emerson College Win Union!

USAS - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 1:17pm

By Nicki Morris, Emerson PRIDE USAS Local 196

After nine months of organizing supported by students in Emerson P.R.I.D.E. (Progressives and Radicals in Defense of Employees), food service workers at Emerson College have won union recognition with UNITE HERE Local 26. Our campaign began in fall of 2013 when one amazing worker first came forward to begin organizing on our campus. And from that worker’s first act of courage, we never looked back.

 Emerson’s campaign turned into something so much greater than what any of us expected. This campaign took us to meetings with workers where we vowed to build student support on their road to justice on our campus. It took us to packed rooms with a growing union committee and the indescribable thrill of looking around a room and knowing we were building something here that could not be stopped. This campaign took us to endless meetings with student organizations as we built our student coalition, C.L.A.W. (Coalition of Lions in Action with Workers), with twenty-five other groups on campus. This campaign took us to our first delegation in April when workers publicly announced their supermajority of signatures on a petition calling for a fair process to form a union, with over 70 students present in support. It took us to Washington DC to rally with other students and workers from around the country. And now, it has taken us to victory!

 One worker from Emerson, Luis Miranda, often spoke about how through this campaign, he found a new family in the workers he organized beside and the students who supported him. I know that I have found a family through this fight and I am overwhelmed with love and gratitude for every person who made this victory possible.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Globalization and NAFTA Cause Migration from Mexico

NNIRR - Sat, 10/11/2014 - 3:00am
Story Type:  Article Story Author:  David Bacon Story Publisher:  Political Research Associates

When NAFTA was passed two decades ago, its boosters promised it would bring “First World” status for the Mexican people. Instead, it prompted a great migration north.

**This article appears in PRA’s Fall, 2014 issue of The Public Eye magazine, a special edition on neoliberalism and the Right**

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Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Students Respond to Teach For America, Launch TFA Truth Tour

USAS - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 1:17am

By Blake McGhghy, Harvard University, Local 5

A few weeks ago, USAS students sent this letter to Teach for America announcing a public campaign to remove the organization from our campuses unless they make some important reforms.

Since then, TFA has publicly responded to students, requesting that instead of running our campaigns to defend quality public education, we should engage in a longer dialogue with them, “uniting in support of students.” A few of our locals have engaged in such dialogues with TFA representatives, and while we have learned that many individuals within Teach For America care deeply about K12 students, unfortunately we have been dissatisfied with their stated solutions to the problems we see within their organization. We hope to have a national conversation sometime in the near future about any new progress made towards meeting USAS’ demands.

Since we do not feel such progress has yet been made despite extensive dialogue, nor that their recent surface-level changes alter the fundamental structure of the organization, we will continue our campaign until we see a true commitment to ending the privatization of our public schools.

We will be launching our second Teach for America Truth Tour on Friday October 10 at Harvard University, with additional stops at Vanderbilt University, University of Memphis, Macalester College, Eastern Michigan University, and more to be announced.

For more detailed background on our stance, look to our below letter, again sent to CEOs Kramer and Villanueva-Beard, and Board Chair Kopp.

__________________________________________________

Dear CEO Kramer, CEO Villanueva Beard, and Board Chair Kopp:

Thank you for your prompt response to our letter. We have appreciated the opportunity for our locals to meet with representatives from Teach for America, and we hope that this conversation continues with more locals across the country into the near future. In addition, we request a national meeting with all of you within the next month.

We agree that students are best served when schools have access to the best teachers possible. However, we believe that the best teachers for students are lifelong teachers with long-term commitments to the specific needs of local communities. Teacher turnover, on the other hand, directly harms student achievement and TFA is exacerbating this problem. While high turnover rates are negatively reflected in “student performance data,” we know that the developmental and psychological ramifications of high turnover rates for students are much more devastating than any standardized test could reflect.

Students, especially those in low-income communities and communities of color, need continuity and this is something which TFA simply cannot provide. By continuing to send corp members to regions without teacher shortages, Teach for America is displacing the only individuals who can: life-long career teachers.

Providing corp members to regions without teacher shortages has devastated local communities by enabling rampant school closings and teacher layoffs, which have helped to catalyze the dangerous phenomena of weakening teachers associations and privatizing public schools. Far too frequently, TFA corp members are taking over recently vacated teaching positions from unnecessary layoffs in new charter schools formed in the wake of public school closings.

In Chicago, for instance, TFA has very directly enabled the closing of forty-nine unionized  traditional public schools, which are now being replaced by privately controlled charter schools that are highly staffed by TFA corp members. Teach for America is thereby helping to rapidly shift the control of public education into private hands, which provides the call to action for USAS students nationwide.

We must reassert our first demand and urge Teach for America to stop sending corp members to communities without teacher shortages. Instead, corp members should only be sent to regions designated by the US Department of Education as “Teacher Shortage Areas.”

Based on our locals’ discussions with TFA representatives, if there is one thing which we all can agree, it is that corp members are insufficiently trained. We appreciate TFA’s small pilot efforts to increase corp members’ training. However, we stand firmly by the previously expressed need for holistic reform and improvements to training by partnering with local teacher preparation programs across the board.

Similarly, we appreciate Teach for America’s recent work to make the corp more inclusive and representative. We are pleased that TFA is, in your words, “one of the nation’s largest producers of African American and Latino teachers.” However, such individual-level changes and pilot programs fail to adequately address the adverse structural effects which we describe that Teach for America is having on public education in working class communities and communities of color across the country.

To your point that nearly 90% of all TFA alumni work in education or low-income communities after their two years of service, we believe that this widely shared figure is highly misleading. On our university campuses, we see that TFA alumni are very well represented at professional graduate schools, such as our business schools and law schools. Digging deeper, we realize that this statistic lumps far too many categories together in an attempt to overestimate the figure. Furthermore, we realize that this statistic comes from a survey, which according to an e-mail from CEO Kramer, only 23,000 alumni responded to, making it very problematic for the organization to claim the figure as representative of all TFA alumni. As we know that TFA has been accused of inflating data in its favor in the past, we request that TFA collect and publish more precise and honest figures.

Ultimately, we hope to work toward policies at our universities which provide support and resources for individuals with lifelong commitments to public education, rather than merely two years of service.

Again, we appreciate you for responding to our concerns and openly engaging in a dialogue with members of USAS locals. Please be in touch with us to arrange a national meeting this month.

Meanwhile, we will continue our campaign and work to sever our universities’ connections with Teach for America until we see signs of meaningful policy change which address our concerns.

 

Sincerely,

United Students Against Sweatshops

 

 

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

People's Candidate Forums kick off in Montpelier!

VWC - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 1:50pm

Last night, organizers kicked off the first People's Forum on Human Rights and the Economy with a great showing at Montpelier High School!  Members of the Vermont Workers' Center joined allies with Vermont Center for Independent Living, Green Mountain Self-Advocates, and 350Vermont to ask candidates where they stood on critical issues in our communities and our larger vision for people and the planet.

Addressing the 18 candidates present, moderator Joseph Gainza began the evening by noting that "many of us have worked on specific issues for years, but we have come to realize that these are part of a larger human rights crisis that calls for bolder and bigger solutions. We need a fundamental shift toward a real democracy that ensures all our human rights."

350Vermont member KC Whiteley testified about how our current energy system is not only driving climate change, but is unaffordable for many low-income Vermont residents.  She pointed out that our state is behind on it's weatherization goals, and asked candidates what they would do to make energy efficiency and reduced energy costs available to low-income and working Vermonters.

Amy Lester said, "Once again, I'm proud to be a member of the VWC as well as a movement builder. The civil discourse that took place last night at the Washington county peoples's forum was inspiring...I want my representatives to hear what's important to us and be held accountable in the future concerning issues around healthcare, the environment and the state budget."

Also, today VWC member Ellen Schwartz had an OpEd published in the Rutland Herald, entitled "Make sure Shumlin doesn't back down."  In it, she stated:

"We are now at a crossroads with very high stakes...This year, as we move forward with Act 48, we can take the bold step of creating a health care system designed to keep us healthy, a health care system that makes it possible for people to grow old in place, a health care system in which money no longer stands between people and the care they need. Vermont can get this right, but it will take political courage, especially in the face of doomsday predictions and fear mongering. It will also take all of us whose lives are affected by the decisions made in Montpelier to stand together, to support each other, and to make our voices heard."

Let's build on this energy for the rest of the forums -- See you tomorrow in Burlington!

List of remaining People's Forums - Check workerscenter.org/calendar for flyers and more info.

Burlington: Integrated Arts Academy - October 9 @ 6pm

Bristol: Mt. Abraham High School - October 13 @ 6pm

Brattleboro: Marlboro Graduate Center, Room 2E - October 14 @ 6pm

Morrisville: People's Academy Cafeteria  - October 15 @ 6:30

Bennington: St. Peters Church - October 15 @ 6:30

St. Albans: Franklin Co. Senior Center - October 16 @ 6pm

White River Junction: Hartford High School - October 16 @ 6:30

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

New report details a pattern of violence and abuse at the hands of private prison corporations now profiting off family detention

NNIRR - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 3:00am
Story Type:  Press Release Story Author:  Grassroots Leadership

Why no one should be surprised that a complaint over sexual abuse has already been filed in a facility that’s been open less than two months

read more

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

T.G.I. CAAAV! A Happy Hour to Show Love for CAAAV, 10/29

CAAAV - Tue, 10/07/2014 - 6:20pm

When: Wednesday, October 29 from 6:30-9PM
Where: Revision Lounge and Gallery (219 Avenue B, New York, New York 10009)

We invite you to a happy hour celebration to show your love, appreciation, and support for CAAAV!

Come join us for drinks, food, music (playlist by CAAAV board members Lolan and Esther so you know it’ll be fly) and community!

This will be a great opportunity to come meet CAAAV staff, board, members, and volunteers and hear about our campaigns and programs, including an update on our public housing work and our Chinatown rezoning campaign.

And of course, it’ll be a time to learn how you can support organizing in low-income Asian immigrant and refugee communities in NYC.

Say it with us now, “THANK GOODNESS IT’S CAAAV!” (and then click here to RSVP on the facebook event!)

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

UE Leaflets on 2014 Elections Available for Download

UE - Tue, 10/07/2014 - 11:03am
07 October, 2014

Election Day 2014 is very soon -- November 4. A lot is at stake in this election for union members and working people. If pro-corporate anti-union extremists win a few more seats in the U.S. Senate, they'll have control of both houses of Congress, and they can do tremendous harm to workers' rights. They are also committed to wrecking Social Security, Medicare, and many other programs that workers have paid for and depend on.

They're also trying to take over more state governments so they can destroy public employees' rights to join unions and negotiate contracts, as the did in Wisconsin, and pass so-called "right-to-work" laws to weaken unions in private industry and cut wages, as they've recently done in Michigan and Indiana.

The UE national union has prepared eight leaflets for UE locals and members, summarizing the issues in this election for workers, and they are all available for download at the links below. The "get-out-the-vote" (GOTV) flyer explains the issues facing us nationally. The other seven leaflets deal with specific election races in Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Download the leaflets that are useful to you, and print out enough copies to share with your co-workers. They'll print well in color or in black-and-white. If you need to, you can save the file on a thumb drive or CD and bring it to a commercial copy shop (or even email it to them), and have them print the leaflets for you there.

UE Leaflets:

Get Out the Vote National Leaflet Connecticut Governor's Race Iowa Governor's Race Iowa Senate Race Illinois Governor's Race North Carolina Senate Race Pennsylvania Governor's Race Wisconsin Governor's Race
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Tenants Rights Tuesdays

Causa Justa :: Just Cause - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 11:58am

This past Tuesday the Community and Economic Development Committee heard testimony from courageous tenants, Just Cause leaders, and allies who all spoke out in support of the Tenant Protection Ordinance (TPO) in Oakland.  Along with all the supporters were a lot of landlords and 2 major landlord groups – the East Bay Rental Housing Association and the Jobs and Housing Coalition, who came out in opposition to the TPO. The council delayed the debate on the TPO and are continuing it to Tuesday, October 14th for the debate and vote.  

This Tuesday, is a major CALL-IN day to tell the City Council loud and clear that we need them to pass the TPO and not to water it down.

Please pick up the phone call the following councilmembers (in this order if you dont have much time) :

Rebecca Kaplan (At-large rep)  (510) 238-7008    atlarge@oaklandnet.com   

Libby Schaaf (District 4)   (510) 238-7004  lschaaf@oaklandnet.com   

Noel Gallo (District 5)  (510) 238-7005  ngallo@oaklandnet.com    

Desley Brooks (District 6) (510) 238-7006   dbrooks@oaklandnet.com  

Lynette McElhaney (District 3) (510) 238-7003 lmcelhaney@oaklandnet.com   

Pat Kernighan (District 2)  ( 510) 238-7002  pkernighan@oaklandnet.com     

Dan Kalb (Champion - District 1)   (510) 238-7001  dkalb@oaklandnet.com 

Larry Reid (ANTI - District 7)  (510) 238-7007    lreid@oaklandnet.com    

 

When you call, give them this simple message:

Councilmember, I am calling to urge you to pass the Tenant Protection Ordinance to protect Oakland's renters and families from displacement. 

We want the TPO to:

·      Apply to as many units as possible!  Don't leave anyone out of these protections

·      Have civil penalties! This will be what deters bad landlords from using intimidation to push out their tenants

·      TO BE PASSED NOW! Do not let the elections or any other reason delay a protection that is needed today.

That's it. You can add whatever you want. Tell them your story. Tell them why it is particularly important to you. But whatever you do, call today - It's Tenants Rights Tuesday!

 

NEXT TENANTS RIGHTS TUESDAY: October 14th

We will meet at the City Hall for the CED Committee's debate on the Tenant Proection Ordinance

-       We are meeting at City Hall at 1:30pm to get seats and pack the chambers.

-       Will you speak in support of the TPO?

 if you spoke at the last hearing, you will not be able to speak again because the item is continued, BUT if you signed up and didn’t speak last time, you can still speak.

Tenants Rights Tuesday is at the Full Council! Tuesday, October 21st

-       We are meeting at City Hall at 5pm for a rally to get ready for the full council meeting, can YOU be there?

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Sign Petition to Support Nurses at Porter Medical Center

VWC - Thu, 10/02/2014 - 1:28pm

PLEASE SIGN PETITION to support the Porter Nurses, click here.

What's happening: In November of 2013, the Porter Nurses organized their union, the Porter Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, to empower and protect their patients and themselves. They organized to ensure safe staffing, to secure adequate resources to assist them in the delivery of safe quality care, to achieve a culture of continual learning and education, to improve recruitment and retention and improve working conditions, and to negotiate a legally binding contract that fosters an environment of professionalism and respect where nurses have an equal voice in decision-making. The Porter Nurses have joined together in AFT Nurses and Health Professionals, AFT VT, with colleagues at Fletcher Allen and Brattleboro Memorial.

What is Happening: The Porter RNs have been negotiating their first contract since February 2014 and they need your support! They are as committed as ever to the goals they set when organizing their union. When frontline healthcare
professionals are involved in decision-making, the outcomes for patients will be the best they can and the work environment for nurses will be one that fosters respect and professionalism. Improving the working conditions for nurses improves the
conditions in which they provide care!

Stand in solidarity with the Porter Nurses who are working together to secure a fair first contract that:
● Ensures an equal voice in decision-making that fosters a high-quality healthcare environment;
● Provides Safe Nurse to Patient Ratios that support excellence in their nursing practice;
● Improves recruitment and retention by providing an environment of respect and support of work life balance;
● Implements fair compensation and benefits for all work, including equity across PMC facilities

Let’s call on the PMC Administration to respect the PMC nurses and settle a fair first contract with them now. The right to organize is central to the human right to work with dignity.
Sign the petition to support the Porter Nurses today!.

More info: You can email Avery Pittman at avery@workerscenter.org or Sue Lucas at susanl@upvaft.org if you have any questions about ways to help.if you have any questions about ways to help.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

CVH 2014 Shirley Chisholm Lights of Freedom Awards

CVH - Thu, 10/02/2014 - 1:08am
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Feature This:  No, Do not Feature Slide Image:  shirley-chisholms-quotes-7.jpg
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

HRA Overhaul Announced: WEP to be Phased Out!

CVH - Wed, 10/01/2014 - 8:26pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

October 1, 2014

Contact:

Alyssa Aguilera, 917-200-1446, ALYSSA@VOCAL-NY.ORG

Jennifer Hadlock, 347-454-4842, JENNIFER@CVHACTION.ORG

nnifer@cvhaction.org

Feature This:  No, Do not Feature
Categories: Grassroots Newswire
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