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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

Join CISPES’ 3rd Radical Roots Delegation to El Salvador

Delegation Date:  July 22, 2018 to August 1, 2018

An opportunity for Central Americans in the diaspora to (re)connect with El Salvador’s culture, revolutionary history and learn directly from social movement leaders about current struggles for social justice in El Salvador! 

Delegation Dates:
Sunday, July 22, 2018 – Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Join CISPES in its 3rd Radical Roots Delegation! Apply Here!

Applications accepted on a rolling basis – apply to day as spots are limited.

These days it seems like there are ample opportunities for Central Americans in the diaspora to travel to their family’s homelands  and (re)connect with their roots.

So why travel to El Salvador with CISPES?

For one: Because we’ve done this before. CISPES has led hundreds of delegations to El Salvador since the early 1980s, at the height of the U.S.-sponsored Civil War and at the birth of the U.S.-El Salvador solidarity movement. And we haven’t stopped accompanying El Salvador’s political and social movement since.

Our first Radical Roots Delegation was held in 2010 during the social movement’s struggle against mining and against the privatization of water, health, and other key public resources. This first delegation was proposed and organized by Salvadoran-identified folks within CISPES who felt in need of a space within the organization to understand their unique experiences in (re)connecting with El Salvador. Watch former delegates talk about their experience in the 2010 Radical Roots Here!

Arising from an extensive and ongoing conversation within CISPES about how to continue to dismantle oppression and racism within our movement, the third Radical Roots delegation will be a space for Central Americans born, raised or living in the diaspora to learn more from  El Salvador’s long-term struggle for social and economic justice, to collectively define what international solidarity means in this era of emboldened right-wing extremism in the region, and explore the many ways WE can support  ongoing struggles in El Salvador, Central America and beyond.

Current political dynamics and struggles in the U.S. and El Salvador call on us to be more vigilant about what is happening politically and to have a clear understanding of how these dynamics impact our communities. These realities call on us to connect meaningfully and intentionally across borders, histories and geographies to create a unified and diverse movement that can challenge racism and xenophobia at home and abroad.

Eight years since the Salvadoran left was elected to the presidency, the struggle for liberation has never been more complicated. Participants will hear from leftist and social movement leaders about the country’s prolonged struggle for social and economic justice and the challenges posed by a regional resurgence of fascist right wing powers emboldened by a new U.S. interventionist agenda.

Delegates will also meet social movement leaders organizing around labor rights, feminist sindicalism, LGBTQ student activism, rights to water, and much more to learn more about these areas of struggle, the achievements they’ve had under the first leftist administrations, and the challenges that remain.

While in El Salvador, delegates will also learn about the country’s rich cultural legacy, revolutionary history and visit sites of cultural significance. Finally, delegates will be able to participate in the annual commemoration of the 1975 student massacre at the University of El Salvador, where the U.S.- supported Salvadoran military brutally killed student leaders protesting human rights abuses carried out by the state.

The Radical Roots delegation will be led and organized by current and former CISPistas who identify as Salvadoran/Central American. In all of this, the objective will be to center the experiences of Central Americans born or living in the diaspora, and to engage delegates in collective discussions regarding the diasporic Central American experience.

Arrival Date: Sunday, July 22, 2018
Departure Date: Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Cost: $900 + Airfare
This will cover all food, housing, transportation, and logistical expenses while in El Salvador.
Airfare to El Salvador generally costs between $400 – $700.

Spanish language skills are not necessary for this delegation.
Must be 18 and older to participate.

For more information about CISPES delegations see this general information page or this frequently asked questions page.

If you would like to join us during the next Radical Roots Delegation please fill out the application form here.

DEADLINE to apply is March 1st, 2018. Delegates who know they will need fundraising support or scholarships should submit their application as soon as possible.

If you have questions please contact Samantha Pineda- samantha@cispes.org

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Venezuela: ¿US next adventure?

Portland Central America Solidarity Committee - Mon, 02/19/2018 - 11:07am


Bolivarian Venezuela, the Most Acute Point of Anti-imperialist Confrontation  

By Carlos Aznárez on February 13, 2018

Bolivarian militia, Photo: Bill Hackwell

It is not about dramatizing, exaggerating or outlining apocalyptic conspiracies, but each of the pieces that the Empire is moving on the Latin American chess board aims to establish a scenario of military intervention against Bolivarian Venezuela. It may be outsourced or executed directly with the false excuses of “humanitarianism”. The situation becomes more serious if one takes into account that all this warmongering scaffolding could be aimed at preventing the Chavista people from another strong electoral beating in April of the oligarchic power.

There are multiple elements that would help to assemble an imminent interventionist staging after the decision of the U.S. government to expedite the fall of the ultra-legitimate government of Nicolas Maduro.  First, a few months ago the envoy was Vice President Mike Pence who toured the continent visiting “friendly” presidents to order them to tighten the nuts of the economic war against Venezuela. It did not work quite as expected but it planted the seed that a few days ago, was revived by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. This time the proposal was an escalation to increase the belligerence against the “dictator” Maduro and was whole heartedly bought by the two representatives of the most aggressive neoliberal team. Both lapdogs Macri and Santos climbed onto the aircraft carrier made in the USA and promised to be among the first in the onslaught that Washington is concocting.   This was followed up with an accumulation of gestures indicative of the danger in the making. Namely: the declarations of the undersecretary of State for Latin America and the Caribbean, Francisco Palmieri, offering aid to Colombia and Brazil due to “the gigantic and continuous migration of Venezuelans to both territories”. Palmieri used the “humanitarian” interventionist angle, the same one insisted upon by the CIA cadet, Luis Almagro of the OAS and his Peruvian accomplice Kuzinsky, one of the main promoters of that presidential mafia calling itself the “Group of Lima”. In that same line Macri gave the green light so that Venezuelan students “who come to Argentina fleeing the dictatorial chaos do not suffer more troubles”, and therefore, unlike those who come from other countries, they will be legalized immediately for their educational situation.

The maneuver is to demonstrate that “the Venezuelan dictatorship” has no room for anyone to survive. This is something very similar to what the United States tried for years with Cuba and very recently with the “Syrian dictatorship” and is summarized something like this.”I make your life impossible, I will force your people to emigrate, I welcome them with open arms and then I invade you humanely.” In terms of military intervention there is also disturbing data. First there is the presence of the Commander of the US Southern Command in Colombia, then there is the movement of troops in the Amazonian border of Brazil and Colombia, again with the Venezuelan migratory excuse. The central point of confluence of these preparations is the Brazilian mobile base of Tabatinga, which was inaugurated last November with the joint military exercises of the USA, Brazil, Colombia and Peru, in which mock invasion was practiced “to a country under communist domain.” Just like in the old days.

The interventionist plans, then turned to the U.S. ambassador in Bogotá, Kevin Whitaker, who affirmed that Venezuela needs “a democratic, institutional and rapid solution”. Immediately, Santos and Uribe, each applauded the offer and while the Colombian president assured that he will not recognize the April elections, the paramilitary Uribe poured more gasoline onto the fire urging to hurry a military intervention that has ” the Colombian approval.” All this comes in the context of the territorial re-occupation of Colombian paramilitary groups in Cúcuta, in Catatumbo and other points close to Venezuela. Not to mention the recent presence of U.S. soldiers in the area of Tumaco, the same area where last year several peasants were murdered. There is also intense entry and exiting of men and equipment at the nine US bases in Colombia.

With total precision the former military and now geostrategic analyst William Izarra is now speaking of “Operadora Tenazas” and mentions as territories that could be used for a large-scale intervention, apart from Colombia, Guyana and the Dutch islands-colonies of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, all of them places where the US military walks around like it is their home.

This being the case, and with Trump barking, the most logical thing is that in the internal scenario things will tighten up. Faced with the expected withdrawal of the opposition from the Dominican negotiating table, fulfilling an order from their imperial masters, and the increase in the escalation of the blockade and economic war imposed by Washington, its Latin American acolytes and the European Union, the Venezuelan people are preparing to repeat the victory of July 31.  Without a single doubt, everyone is convinced that in April the second part of the mother of all battles will arrive, and that unlike the one faced by the United States before it began to massacre the Iraqi people in 1991, it will be to ratify once more that the Revolution is necessary not only to ensure peace in Venezuela but to stir up the fire of continental and world rebellion. No, this will not be another election to endorse all that Chavez won, but rather to support Maduro unitarily.

This would serve as a big kick in the ass to those who are trying to get our people, all of them, back to the Middle Ages.  Now, if the brazenness being displayed by Trump, Rajoy, Macri and Santos continues with their plans and decide to launch a military escalation directly or indirectly, before or after the elections, at the local level in Venezuela there are no doubts as Diosdado Cabello pointed out, concerning an invasion disguised as humanitarian aid: “You are likely to enter, but we are going to see how you will come out.” And on the continental stage the time will have come to “make the prairie burn.” These are not the times of great speeches and promises of solidarity with the fate of socialism in Our America. It will be a time when those faithful to the insurgent legacy of Hugo Chavez to demonstrate with ideas, heart and by putting their body on the line as the eternal Commander did.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Tuesday, Feb 20: Take Action to Stop Cuts to Health Care

VWC - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 10:06am

Compiled by Sugarbush executive Adam Greshin, Governor Scott's proposed 2019 budget reflects the same program being rolled out in Washington, DC: Defund public programs while laying the groundwork for privatization, and undermine the agencies tasked with regulating private industry and advocating for consumers.

Included in the cuts are subsidies for people with Vermont Health Connect silver plans, funding for the office of the Health Care Advocate and the Green Mountain Care Board - which would be forced to lay off workers whose job is to advocate for patients and regulate hospital and health insurance companies - and cuts to the Developmental Services budget.

On Tuesday, the House and Senate Appropriations committees will begin the process of reviewing and voting on the proposed budget. Join the Health Care is a Human Right Campaign by calling on committee chairs Sen. Jane Kitchell and Rep. Kitty Toll to oppose cuts to healthcare and services for people with disabilities.

Take Action: Tuesday, 20 February between 8am - 4:30pm

Step 1: Call the Sergeant-at-Arms at (802) 828-2228 and leave a message for Senator Jane Kitchel and Representative Kitty Toll. Say:

My name is _____. I’d like to leave a message for: Sen. Jane Kitchel and Rep. Kitty Toll.

“I am calling on you to reject cuts to our health care programs and services for people with disabilities, and move Vermont towards a people’s budget that advances equity and dignity.”

Tell the Sergeant-at-Arms your name, phone number, and town. Be aware, they may call you back.

Step 2: Let us know you did it by clicking this link or emailing kate@workerscenter.org

Step 3: Make a list of friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to ask to make the call. Ask them to let you know when they did and fill out the form for them or email kate@workerscenter.org

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

2/14 Press Advisory

LVEJO - Wed, 02/14/2018 - 6:14pm
WHAT: Press Conference: Little Village community responds to Sale & Proposed Redevelopment of Crawford Coal Power Plant WHEN: Thursday, February 15, at 9:30am WHERE: City Hall, 121 North LaSalle Dr, 2nd Floor From Coal to Diesel, The Little Village that Can CHICAGO, IL —On Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018 the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) […]
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Aviso de Prensa!

LVEJO - Wed, 02/14/2018 - 6:06pm
QUÉ: Conferencia de prensa: la comunidad de La Villita responde a la VENTA y al REDESARROLLO PROPUESTO de la planta de energía de carbón de Crawford CUÁNDO: jueves, 15 de febrero a las 9:30 a.m. DÓNDE: City Hall, 121 North LaSalle Dr, Chicago. 2do Piso De carbón a Diesel, La Villita que Si Puede CHICAGO, […]
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

The U.S. is propping up a dictatorship in Honduras

Taken from


By David Noriega Feb 9, 2018


The inauguration ceremony for Juan Orlando Hernández’s second term as president of Honduras was held in a sparsely attended stadium guarded by hundreds of soldiers and police officers decked out in riot gear. Outside, in the streets of Tegucigalpa, protesters did what they’ve been doing since November, when Hernández went against the country’s constitution to run for a second term: They blocked roads, burned tires, and chanted, using the president’s initials, “Out with JOH!”


Hernández’s re-election represents a political and social crisis for the already-fragile nation, and casts new light on the U.S.’s complicated relationship with its most important ally in Central America — namely, its history of supporting Honduras’s armed forces while turning a blind eye to the corruption, power grabs, and violence that critics say have put the country on the path to authoritarianism.

Honduras’s constitution explicitly forbids a president from running for a second term, but Hernández ran anyway. Then, after international observers found multiple signs of fraud in the election, the electoral tribunal controlled by Hernández’s party declared him the victor. The country erupted in protest, and the government responded with force, at times firing live rounds into crowds of demonstrators. Some 30 people have died in the violence thus far.

Today’s crisis has roots going back almost a decade, and has been consistently enabled by the United States. In 2009, President José Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a military coup engineered by the National Party, which remains in power today.

The justification for the coup was that Zelaya was setting himself up for re-election — which is precisely what Hernández went on to do last year, except successfully. After initially condemning the coup in 2009, the United States then reversed course: Hillary Clinton’s State Department endorsed the coup regime by allowing it to hold new elections without restoring Zelaya to power.


Since then, the U.S. has given more than $111 million in security assistance to Honduras’s military and police, even after the Honduran government was implicated in massive corruption scandals and high-profile political assassinations.

That pattern is now repeating itself: Even after most of Latin America and the international community condemned last year’s elections as suspect, the U.S. endorsed Hernández’s victory, cementing his and the National Party’s increasingly comprehensive grip on power.

“All of this is a continuation of the weakening of institutions, the concentration of power, and what we might call the construction of a dictatorship,” said Hugo Noe Pino, a liberal economist and leading critic of the current administration. “And the sad thing is seeing the United States support a situation like that.”

This segment originally aired January 29, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

De carbón a Diesel, La Villita que Si Puede

LVEJO - Mon, 02/12/2018 - 7:13pm
CHICAGO, IL – El martes 6 de febrero de 2018, la Organización de Justicia Ambiental de La Villita (LVEJO por sus siglas en inglés) y la comunidad de La Villita en general se sorprendieron al saber que Hilco y el Alcalde Rahm Emanuel propusieron la demolición de la planta de energía de carbón Crawford y […]
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

The Senate’s immigration debate, starting next week, is really at least 7 different debates

NNIRR - Sat, 02/10/2018 - 1:10pm
Story Type:  Article Story Author:  Dara Lind Story Publisher:  VOX


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Categories: Grassroots Newswire

White House chief of staff John Kelly: Some immigrants 'too afraid' or 'too lazy' to sign up for DACA

NNIRR - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 9:57pm
Story Type:  Article Story Author:  ALAN FRAM of ASSOCIATED PRESS Story Publisher:  The Press Democrat

WASHINGTON — Some immigrants may have been "too afraid" or "too lazy" to sign up for the Obama-era program that offered protect

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Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Local 203, 255 Members Tell Vermont State Senate: Raise the Wage!

UE - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 11:51am
06 February, 2018L to R: Kathleen Coonrod, Andrew Sullivan, Emma ParadisMontpelier, VT

Members of UE Locals 203 and 255 joined Vermonters from around the state on January 25 to tell the Senate Economic Development, Housing & General Affairs Committee to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

UE members and other told the senators that legislation that would boost the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour over several years will improve their lives, and the lives of their co-workers, neighbors, families, and communities.

Local 255 steward Andrew Sullivan told the UE News, “Although I hadn't planned to testify, one of the organizers of the hearing told me that they wanted as many people to speak as possible, so I signed up. He said I could speak for as little as 10 seconds. While I was waiting for my turn, I found a link to a study on affordable housing on my phone.

“When it was my turn, I said that I'd been told that I could speak for just 10 seconds, so I would try to stick to it. Citing the study, I read a line from it off my phone. The 2015 study, by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, claimed that no one in any of the 50 states could afford a one-bedroom apartment by working a 40-hour week at minimum wage. I said that I knew it was true in Vermont. I told them that, for that reason, I was asking them to vote to raise the wage.”

Local 255 Vice President Emma Paradis told the committee that “I was born and raised in this community, and am part of a small handful of native Vermonters who has remained in the state after graduating college. I have been able to do so because I was privileged enough to graduate without college debt and am a union worker...

“I am grateful that as a union worker, I have the right to bargain with my employer for improved wages, healthcare and working conditions. As a member of the union negotiating committee, it is my personal responsibility to advocate for wages and benefits that reflect the rising costs of living and the quality of life our members work for and deserve.”

However, Paradis continued, “over the years, I have become aware and deeply concerned, that my neighbors are struggling. I see service workers who cannot afford to feed their families. I see health care workers who cannot afford health care. I see caregivers who cannot meet their own needs. I see people leaving the state because there are so few jobs worth staying for.”

Kathleen Coonrod, Local 203, also addressed the hearing.

The UE leaders were glad to have had the chance to share their views with legislators. Paradis said it was “a great experience — so much fun having the full attention of your elected officials!”

Said Sullivan, “Before speaking, I was a little bit nervous that I would sound nervous. I don't know how nervous I sounded, but I think I said enough. It was fun to participate, and I was proud to represent our union. I think that the economic situation in the nation is a deteriorating catastrophe, albeit one that is absolutely unnecessary. While I was at the hearing, I kept thinking that the unionization of more businesses in our state could do more than any single bill could.”

Increasing the minimum wage will put an additional $240 million in the pockets of Vermont workers, who will spend it in the Vermont economy, according to the Public Assets Institute. That means that along with boosting the wages of families, a $15 an hour minimum wage will also strengthen local economies and tackle the massive inequality that's holding back too many Vermonters.

Of the 80,000 Vermonters who are struggling to get by on less than $15 an hour:

  • 88 percent are adults, 56 percent are women, 59 percent work full-time, and one in five are parents.
  • Structural racism is evident in low-wage work. Almost 60 percent of African Americans in Vermont earn less than $15 an hour.
  • Inadequate wages in Vermont are also impacting many young children. More than 43,000 Vermont children live in a household supported by someone earning less than $15 per hour, and nearly 30,000 children live in a household supported by someone earning less than $12 per hour.

The effort to raise the wage in Vermont is being led by Rights and Democracy.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Hallcon Drivers Prepare for National Bargaining

UE - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 11:46am
06 February, 2018

Drivers across the country who work for Hallcon Corp. have selected their bargaining committees for upcoming negotiations to renew UE’s national contract with the company. "Currently, we have surveys out throughout our different areas and we are having conversations with drivers on the priorities they are willing to fight for," said UE Local 1077 President Laura Johnson. "As all UE members know, a bargaining committee is much better prepared when they know exactly how where and what the members are willing to fight for." Local 1077 represents Hallcon drivers in California and Nevada.

"Our contract expires August 23rd, and drivers are expecting real raises," said UE Local 1177 President Larry Hopkins. "We will work hard to get a good contract and we need our members to be involved every step of the way," he added. Local 1177 represents Hallcon drivers in Illinois and Indiana.

The Master Contract between Hallcon Corp. and UE covers approximately 1,100 employees represented by four UE locals. In addition to Locals 1077 and 1177, UE Local 716 represents Hallcon drivers in Ohio and UE Local 155 represents Hallcon drivers in New Jersey.

No dates for bargaining have been set thus far. The Union is planning extensive bargaining training for bargaining committees in March.

Local leaders are recruiting Contract Support Committee (CSC) members, drivers who agree to help pass out union literature and get word from the members to the bargaining committee. If you would like to get involved call (312) 829-8300 for more information.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Iowa Locals Fight On, Despite Anti-Union Laws

UE - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 11:39am
06 February, 2018Des Moines, IA

in February 2017, Republicans in the Iowa legislature rammed through legislation to gut public employees' union rights. Despite this draconian anti-union legislation, UE Locals in Iowa continue to fight for the rights of public-sector workers.

UE Wins Six Recertification Elections

The new legislation requires public-sector unions to be regularly “recertified” by holding elections at the union’s expense to prove their majorities. These elections are held under conditions that no politician could possibly survive under: in order to remain certified, the union has to win a majority of all workers, not just of those who vote — so not voting has the same effect as a “NO” vote. By comparison, President Trump won just 27 percent of eligible voters in the 2016 elections.

UE prevailed in six recertification elections in October: Local 893-30 at the Boone Community School District, Local 821 at the Spencer Community School District, Local 893-845 at Western Iowa Tech Community College, Local 893-97 at the Storm Lake Community School District, Local 893-98 at the Keokuk School District, and Local 893-15 at the Cedar County Road Department all prevailed, by wide margins. 87% of eligible workers voted YES for UE, a resounding rebuke to the Republican majority in the state legislature, who had hoped the new legislation would kill off Iowa’s public-sector unions.

Still Fighting

UE Local 896/COGS, which represents graduate employees at the University of Iowa, has found ways to continue to represent its members even without dues deduction and collective bargaining. They set up an alternative method for dues payment and have been aggressively signing up members.

Although they were unable to bargain a real contract with the State Board of Regents (which runs all three of Iowa’s state universities), they convinced the UI administration to preserve their benefits for the 2017-18 academic year. The Graduate College adopted a “graduate assistant employment policy” which is a word-for-word copy of Local 896’s previous contract provisions governing every employment benefit that Local 896 members have won over the past twenty years.

Local 896 was also active in opposing a provision in the federal Republican tax overhaul bill that would have taxed their long-fought-for tuition waivers as income. The local held a rally on campus that got lots of press coverage, and even drew support from University President Bruce Harreld. The tuition-waiver tax, opposed by graduate employees and universities across the country, was eventually removed from the final tax bill. Local 896 is currently mobilizing its members to oppose cuts to education spending at the Iowa statehouse.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Polls show Americans are closer to Democrats than Donald Trump on immigration

NNIRR - Sat, 02/03/2018 - 8:55pm
Story Type:  Article Story Author:  Dylan Matthews Story Publisher:  VOX

President Trump has proposed what he calls a 

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Categories: Grassroots Newswire

OpEd: Vermont should aim higher than universal primary care

VWC - Fri, 02/02/2018 - 8:10am

Note: This OpEd by high school teacher and Washington resident Tevye Kelman was published in VT Digger.

While VTDigger’s coverage of the legislative hearing on health care access on Jan. 23 was laudable for bringing Vermont’s health care crisis back into the news cycle, it was disappointing to see the hearing characterized as a “cheering section for enacting universal primary care.” At the hearing, I heard resounding support for the principle that health care should be treated as a human right, but I also heard serious concerns raised about limiting our discussion to primary care coverage. As many who testified on Tuesday night noted, the proposed legislation risks being a detour, rather than a step forward, on the road towards a truly equitable and universal health care system.

Health care is a human right. This principle is supported by a strong majority of Americans, and in Vermont, it’s been state law since Act 48 was passed in 2011. It’s certainly the principle that animated Tuesday night’s massive turnout and impassioned testimony. Unfortunately, the universal primary care bills under discussion fail to live up to this principle, and risk undermining the political will needed to confront the economic interests that benefit from a system that treats health care as a commodity.

While S.53 and H.248 might reduce costs and expand coverage for many, they would still oblige people to buy insurance to cover treatment that doesn’t fall under the rubric of primary care. This could include care for severe chronic conditions, disabilities, surgery or cancer treatment, long-term intensive care, nursing home, memory care, and various other specialized procedures. In addition, the bills’ definition of “primary care” excludes dental or vision care, and it is unclear how patient prescription drug costs would be affected. Treating health care as a human right means that no Vermont resident should ever hear the words “I’m sorry, that procedure isn’t covered by your plan” or have a health care decision be determined by economic necessity. The legislation currently under consideration does not pass that test.

Some advocates who share the goal of a universal, comprehensive health care see universal primary care legislation as a pragmatic step in that direction. A more sober appraisal, however, reveals universal primary care as a tremendous reduction in political vision that may undermine, rather than accelerate, the push for more comprehensive health care reform. We have been waiting for more than six years for our elected officials to deliver on the promise of Act 48: an equitably financed, public health care system that ensures that all Vermont residents can access all needed care. Where Act 48 provides a prescription for economic transformation, budget and tax reform, and strengthening the public sector, universal primary care reduces our vision to tinkering around the edges of a broken system.

The real obstacle to full implementation of Act 48 is not cost, but our elected officials’ unwillingness to finance it by asking our state’s wealthiest to pay their fair share. Gov. Peter Shumlin’s infamous 2014 financing plan for universal health care, which was widely derided as “proof” that a single-payer system was unaffordable, was flawed and contained regressive elements that disproportionately burdened the middle class and small businesses to preserve tax breaks wealthy families and large companies. Still, even under Shumlin’s plan, nine in 10 Vermont residents would have seen lower health care costs.

With a truly equitable financing plan, like the one proposed in a 2015 study by the Vermont Workers’ Center and National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, we could implement a universal, publicly funded health care system that guarantees comprehensive care for all Vermont residents, reduces health care costs for all but the wealthiest individuals and families, and provides an economic boon to small businesses, school districts and municipalities by removing employee health care costs from their balance sheets. It’s simply not true that we can’t afford a single-payer system; the data, and the experiences of thousands of Vermonters, show that we can’t afford not to.

Last week’s hearing was just the latest evidence that, here in Vermont, we reject wholesale the idea of treating health care as a commodity, and we believe it’s immoral and unjust for private companies to generate revenue from our human tendency to get sick and require care. We can’t afford compromises that perpetuate an immoral and ineffective system that allows our bodies to be managed for profit. It would be a mistake to throw the momentum of the movement for health care justice behind legislation that seeks to merely reform, rather than transform, the status quo. Now is the time for those who are committed to health care justice to unite behind a truly transformative vision: full implementation and equitable financing of Act 48.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Join UE at Labor Notes

UE - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:33pm
URL: https://www.ueunion.org/labornotesImage: 
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Black History Month UE News Feature

UE - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:13pm
URL: https://www.ueunion.org/ue-news-feature/2018/1968-municipal-workers-martin-luther-king-jr-and-the-poor-people%E2%80%99s-campaignImage: 
Categories: Grassroots Newswire