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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

Denver Schools Urge Alternatives to Expulsion, Suspension

Padres & Jovenes Unidos - 4 hours 17 min ago
Feb 11, 2016Original story at NBC News


An angry teenager feels disrespected by a classmate and initiates a physical fight with another student. The resulting altercation disrupts a classroom lesson. Should these students be expelled? Or should they talk with one another, their fellow students, and a counselor about the consequences of their actions and how to make amends? Increasingly, school districts around the country are choosing the latter approach. Now a coalition of community organizations, educators, academics, and social justice leaders has released a new report to encourage such practices in schools. The groups, including the Advancement Project, Denver Classroom Teachers Association, Denver Public Schools, National Education Association, and Padres & Jóvenes Unidos, collaborated as The Denver School-Based Restorative Practices Partnership to help promote restorative practices in Denver and beyond.

Campaigns: Padres & Jóvenes UnidosEnd the School to Jail Track
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Sanders critiques Obama on immigration

NNIRR - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 11:48am
Story Type:  Article Story Author:  SEUNG MIN KIM Story Publisher:  Politico

Bernie Sanders is upping pressure on the Obama administration over one of its immigration enforcement initiatives, taking new aim at a controversial program just days before the Democratic presidential contest in Nevada.

read more

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

NNIRR e-news: deportations, global migration, elections & more

NNIRR - Wed, 02/10/2016 - 8:00pm
Story Type:  Blog Story Publisher:  NNIRR

Let's Stop the Deportations

Provide relief to refugees fleeing violence in their home countries

read more

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Tackling Inequality in Washington County - Upcoming Events

VWC - Wed, 02/10/2016 - 6:46pm

Economic inequality has reached dramatic levels not seen since the Great Depression — yet with climate change, we face potentially insurmountable environmental challenges in the decades ahead too. Many of us deal with these systemic problems every day — either directly or indirectly — and our struggles are often pitted against each other. An old adage says that in times like these, we must not mourn, but get organized. Join us for these upcoming events — come talk to your neighbors about the impacts of wealth inequality on families and communities.

Community Conversations on Inequality:

  • Wednesday 2/17 from 6-8PM at the Old Labor Hall, Barre (childcare provided)
  • Monday 3/14 from 6-8PM at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Barre (childcare provided)
  • Monday 4/11 from 6-8PM at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Barre (childcare provided)

Canvassing Days and Indoor Tabling - Inequality Survey:

  • Saturday 3/5 from 1-4PM at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Barre (Training and Door-Knock Canvass)
  • Saturday 4/2 from 1-4PM at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Barre (Training and Door-Knock Canvass)
  • Various mornings in February-March from 7-9AM at community breakfasts in Barre (Indoor tabling)

Contact heather@workerscenter.org for the latest dates for indoor tabling at community meals and other sites, OR be in touch if you'd like to set up a date in your area.

AttachmentSize community_conversation_flyer-barre.pdf96.89 KB
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Taking Restorative Practices School-wide: Insights from Three Schools in Denver

Padres & Jovenes Unidos - Tue, 02/09/2016 - 2:49pm
About the Denver School-Based Restorative Practices Partnership

The Denver School-Based Restorative Practices Partnership is a coalition of racial justice, education, labor and community groups working to ensure widespread and high-quality implementation of restorative practices in Denver Public Schools and beyond. Restorative practices are alternatives to punitive school disciplinary policies that have proven ineffective and racially discriminatory. Using approaches such as dialogues, peace circles, conferencing, and peer-led mediation, restorative practices get to the root cause of student behavior. Educators also say restorative practices identify issues too minor to be addressed with harsh school disciplinary responses—suspensions, police tickets, removal from class and isolation from other students—and create plans for students to both learn from and make amends for mistakes. When fully implemented, restorative practices improve school climate, increase academic achievement and reduce racial disparities in school discipline. Through the Denver School-Based Restorative Practices Partnership, the youth and parent group, Padres & Jóvenes Unidos; the national racial justice organization, Advancement Project; the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA), Denver Public Schools (DPS), the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver (DU); and the National Education Association (NEA) are documenting successful restorative practices programs in Denver schools and then sharing the model for success with other districts across the country that are seeking to replicate, scale and sustain these practices.


Executive Summary

Through interviews and focus groups with staff members at three Denver schools that have successfully implemented restorative practices (RP), four essential strategies for taking this approach school-wide were identified: strong principal vision and commitment to RP; explicit efforts to generate staff buy-in to this conflict resolution approach; continuous and intensive professional development opportunities; and, the allocation of school funds for a full-time coordinator of RP at the site. Additional approaches that supported school-wide implementation of RP are described in the full report.

Principal Vision & Commitment

Taking restorative practices school-wide was possible because administrators held the following beliefs:

• Exclusionary discipline practices, such as expulsion and suspension, generally fail to change student behavior.

• Students’ time in class is a key factor in determining their educational success.

• Proactively teaching students social, emotional, and conflict resolution skills improves their behavior and promotes their academic achievement.

• Standing by the philosophy of restorative practices when faced with resistance to change is worth the effort.

Staff Buy-In

Widespread buy-in to restorative practices among stakeholders was generated using the following strategies:

• Involving teachers, service providers, and community members in development of policies and protocols that guide the delivery of restorative practices and their integration into discipline processes.

• Soliciting regular feedback from staff throughout the implementation process.

• When hiring new staff, including teachers, assess their support for the restorative practices philosophy.

Professional Development

Capacity to implement restorative practices throughout the school was supported by:

• Initial commitment of substantial professional development time to new discipline policies and protocols, restorative practices, and allied relationship-building approaches.

• Availability of “booster sessions” for revisiting discipline processes and restorative practices.

• Allocation of additional resources for individualized coaching among staff members who have difficulty aligning their practices with a restorative philosophy.

Full-Time RP Coordinator

To sustain all the other essential strategies for success, schools had to dedicate funding for a person with the following responsibilities:

• Develop positive relationships with students, teachers and families.

• Facilitate formal conferences and mediations.

• Monitor student agreements to repair harm caused.

• Provide coaching and training to other staff members

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Why the GOP’s immigration debate is complicated in New Hampshire

NNIRR - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 5:49pm
Story Type:  Article Story Author:  Michael Kranish and Ed O'Keefe Story Publisher:  The Washington Post

CONCORD, N.H. — The voter at Marco Rubio’s town hall meeting was worried. One of his most trusted employees, Fernando, is an undocumented immigrant. “He hasn’t raped anybody,” the man said. “He hasn’t stolen anything.” What would Rubio do as president to help Fernando stay here?

read more

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Too Few, Too Costly Preschool Opportunities In SW Denver, Study Finds

Padres & Jovenes Unidos - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 5:05pm
Feb 03, 2016Original story at Colorado Public Radio

Too Few, Too Costly Preschool Opportunities In SW Denver, Study Finds


BY JENNY BRUNDIN ON 02/03/2016 - 5:02PM

A new study finds that while every 3- and 4-year-old in Denver’s Cherry Creek and Congress Park neighborhoods attends preschool, only about a third of young children in the city’s Latino southwest neighborhoods attend.

The study casts doubt on the perception that enrollment is lower because Latino families value keeping children at home or with family. Almost half of the 300 parents surveyed said they couldn’t find open slots in their area.  

Parents report waiting lists two years long. The average yearly price-tag of $11,000 for one child is another barrier.

Denver Public Schools acting superintendent Susana Cordova said, "Full day Kindergarten is not even fully funded by our state and then to think about how we extend that down into our 4-year olds and 3-year olds is going to be a really important conversation."

Some parents are calling for universal access to preschool for all 3- and 4-year olds, and the end to suspensions and expulsions from preschool.

The survey was conducted by the group Padres y Jovenes Unidos.

- See more at: http://www.cpr.org/news/newsbeat/too-few-too-costly-preschool-opportunit...

Campaigns: College Prep for AllCollege Prep for AllCollege Prep for AllPadres & Jóvenes Unidos
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Latino parents aren’t happy with southwest Denver preschool options, report says

Padres & Jovenes Unidos - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 4:58pm
Feb 04, 2016Original story at Chalkbeat ColoradoLatino parents aren’t happy with southwest Denver preschool options, report says

By Ann Schimke

(Read the whole report by clicking here)

A new report focused on southwest Denver sheds light on the difficulties some Latino parents face finding affordable, high-quality preschool spots for their kids.

The report, released Wednesday by the advocacy group Padres & Jovenes Unidos, found that some parents who responded to the group’s community survey were placed on waiting lists at sought-after preschool sites. Others found open slots, but only at centers with Level 1 ratings, the lowest of five tiers on the state’s child care rating system, Colorado Shines.

Officials from Denver Public Schools, interviewed by phone, say more could be done to connect parents with preschool options in southwest Denver, but too few slots isn’t the main problem there. Such shortages are more pressing in pockets of southeast Denver, they say.

DPS Acting Superintendent Susana Cordova, who spoke at the report release event at the Corky Gonzalez branch of the Denver Public Library, said expanding preschool access is a key strategy for the district, but noted that the state plays a major role in preschool funding and other early childhood issues.


  • Provide free full-day preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds from low to moderate income families.
  • Prohibit suspensions and expulsions in preschool.
  • Require preschool providers to adopt consistent policies to meet the needs of dual-language learners.
  • Fund preschool appropriately so that all employees earn a living wage.
  • Ensure preschool staff are trained on classroom management, implicit bias, developmentally appropriate discipline methods, dual language instruction and the use of inclusive culturally affirming practices.

“Let’s start talking about the legislative agenda we want to push forward,” she said.

Campaigns: College Prep for AllCollege Prep for AllCollege Prep for AllPadres & Jóvenes Unidos
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Job Announcement: Project and Administrative Manager

Chinese Progressive Association - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 1:44pm


Project and Administrative Manager

Organizational Description

Founded in 1972, the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA) is a grassroots membership-based organization that empowers the Chinese community in San Francisco and promotes justice and equality for all people. CPA’s campaigns and programs improve the living and working conditions of working class immigrants and give ordinary community members a stronger voice in the decision-making processes that affect them. Our core strategies are community education and organizing, leadership development and alliance building.

Position Overview  

The Projects Manager and Administrative Associate provides leadership to the organization’s administrative systems and has the capacity to manage and implement a broad array of the organization’s program and operations work.  This position reports to the Deputy Director.


Administrative Systems Leadership (40%)

  • Work with Deputy Director and key staff to ensure organizational compliance with applicable local, state, and federal laws, including tax and nonprofit requirements, political limitations, and other legal issues.
  • Lead the development and implementation of tracking, monitoring and support systems for relationships with fiscally-sponsored projects and subcontractors.
  • Develop and implement processes for budget development, documentation, and monitoring with staff teams.
  • Support the management of the organizational budget including planning, systems, and controls.
  • Lead other administrative systems development and implementation as needed.

Project Management (30%)

  • Work with Deputy Director to plan, implement, and track short-term projects.
  • Create detailed work plans to meet project objectives
  • Manage project staff and/or volunteers
  • Monitor project and make adjustments as needed to ensure successful completion
  • Manage all project funds and expenditures
  • Evaluate outcomes and document deliverables
  • Examples of projects include: logistics and/or programming for trainings, retreats and events; writing and editing reports, summaries and other organizational materials; setting up temporary/remote office needs

Volunteer Management (15%)

  • Develop, administer, and review policies, procedures, and forms which guide and document the volunteer programs
  • Manage volunteer outreach and recruitment, and retention
  • Develop and implement intake, screening, and orientation processes for volunteers
  • Orient volunteers to increase their understanding of the organization, its work, and the role of volunteers
  • Ensure that volunteers are given appropriate training and supervision
  • Plan and implement formal and informal volunteer recognition and evaluations

 Organizational Support (15%)

  • Support other CPA campaigns, programs and organization-wide activities as needed

Essential Qualifications

  • Commitment to social, economic and environmental justice, bottom-up social change and building social movements
  • Minimum of three years of relevant experience
  • Ability to facilitate processes with staff teams and partners
  • Ability to problem solve and initiate solutions
  • Excellent attention to detail, follow-through, and project management skills
  • Strong oral and written communication skills
  • Strong computer skills
  • Experience in budgets and finance

Preferred Qualifications

  • Graphic design and layout experience
  • Bilingual in English and Cantonese and/or Mandarin

Employment Terms:  This position is being offered as a full-time, exempt position.  Depending on the candidate, the position may be adjusted and tailored to be a part-time position.

Salary and Benefits: $45,000 - $50,000 per year with benefits.

How to Apply

Please submit applications by February 29th, 2016.

Applications will be reviewed as received and the position may be filled prior to the deadline.   Once filled, this job announcement will be removed from our website.

Send resume, cover letter and writing sample to:

Le Tim Ly

Email: apply@cpasf.org. Subject Line should refer to job title. PDFs preferred.

Chinese Progressive Association is an equal opportunity employer. People of color, women, immigrants, youth, LGBT and differently-abled people are encouraged to apply. page files:  CPA Job Announcement - Project and Administrative Manager.pdf
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Denver preschool program failing low-income neighborhoods, report says

Padres & Jovenes Unidos - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 4:39pm
Feb 03, 2016Original story at The Denver Post

Read the whole article here: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_29470027/denver-preschool-program-fail...

Nonprofit Padres & Jóvenes Unidos asking state to prohibit preschool suspensions, expulsions

By Yesenia Robles

The Denver Post


Denver's early childhood education efforts — which have been lauded nationwide — are being called a failure for not evenly creating availability and access, according to a report published Wednesday.

The report, from advocacy nonprofit Padres & Jóvenes Unidos, zeroed in on inequities between the southwest side of the city, one of the lowest income regions, and the rest of Denver.

Neighborhoods such as Cherry Creek, Congress Park and Cheesman Park have 100 percent of their preschool aged children enrolled in early education, while neighborhoods including West Colfax, Sun Valley and Westwood have less than 30 percent of children attending preschool, according to the report.

"Our current reality is that the percentage of 3- and 4-year-olds that attend pre-K varies dramatically, depending on race, socioeconomic status and geography," the report states. "There is currently no viable plan in place to eliminate these inequities. Indeed, within the pre-K community, there is a widespread belief that these widely disparate enrollment rates are primarily due to Latino parents preferring other childcare options."

Padres & Jóvenes Unidos surveyed more than 300 families in southwest Denver about why their children were not in preschool. They found that 45 percent of respondents said there simply wasn't space available at their local sites. Eighteen percent said they could not afford preschool, and only 10 percent said they preferred other childcare options.

"You hear consistently that ECE programs are the foundation for having a successful academic life," said Elsa Oliva Rocha, a southwest Denver parent, and new co-executive director of Padres & Jóvenes Unidos. "It's like, 'all right, we're ready to take our kids, but at the end of the day we don't have choice to be able to do that.' "

The report suggests a central database where families can look for available preschool spots across Denver. Families now have to go to individual preschools to ask if there is a spot available.

In southwest Denver, few centers have spots available to enroll new students. Most that do are rated as low-quality. Funding from the Denver Preschool Program is in part based on the preschool's quality, meaning if families enroll in a poorly rated preschool, they get less assistance to pay for that tuition.

Among five recommendations in the report is a call to make high-quality, full-day preschool free for all low-income and moderate-income families and that suspensions and expulsions become prohibited in all preschools.

The report is being presented to stakeholders at a meeting where about 40 people who work in early childhood across the state are expected to attend.

Yesenia Robles: 303-954-1372, yrobles@denverpost.com or @yeseniarobles

Campaigns: College Prep for AllCollege Prep for AllCollege Prep for AllPadres & Jóvenes Unidos
Categories: Grassroots Newswire

The Great Unequalizer: Community Analysis of Early Childhood Education

Padres & Jovenes Unidos - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 10:27am
Para leer este reporte in Español, haga clic aqui. To read this report in English, click here.   To read a short two-pager of the report in English, click here. Para leer una resumen que tiene dos paginas del reporte, haga clic aqui.   Click here to read responses to frequently asked questions about the report in English. Clic aqui para leer las respuestas a las preguntas que estan preguntado frecuentemente sobre el reporte en Español.   To read our press release of the event in English, click here.   LIVE UPDATES:   Click here for a video of Iterim Superintendent, Susana Cordova, responding to the report. The Denver Post covered the report release - click here to read more. Scroll to the bottom for more graphics and images from today's event.   

We are delighted to share with you a copy of our new report, The Great Unequalizer: How Denver’s Pre-K System Fails the Children of Southwest Denver and Other Low-Income Communities of Color. The report presents the findings of our in-depth study of Denver’s pre-K system, with a particular focus on the experiences of Southwest Denver families. It details the substantial barriers related to access, affordability, and quality that families encounter when they attempt to enroll their children in pre-K, and how these barriers are preventing our city from realizing the promise of pre-K as a powerful strategy for addressing socioeconomic inequities and the racial achievement gap.   As we describe in the report, it is often extremely difficult, or even impossible, for many low- and moderate-income families to access a high-quality pre-K education. Thus, many children in Southwest Denver and other low-income communities of color are not even able to receive the education that is considered the norm within many Denver communities. Moreover, Denver’s pre-K system is actually contributing to citywide inequities by reinforcing the advantages enjoyed by the children of more affluent families and the disadvantages suffered by children of color from low-income families.   In the report, we provide a series of action steps for creating a more equitable pre-K system in Denver. The members of Padres & Jóvenes Unidos are working to implement these action steps through advocacy with city- and state-level policymakers, and we are hopeful that you will join our efforts in ensuring that every child has access to a high-quality pre-K education.   Images from the report: Imagens desde el reporte en ambos ingles y español:   (Members of Padres & Jóvenes Unidos gather on the front steps of DPS in the fall of 2015 to demand a new principal at Cheltenham Elementary.)   Photos from today's event:   (Attendees gather for a group photo after the presentation of the groundbreaking report.) (Susana Cordova, Interim Superintendent, talks with Ricardo Martinez, Co-Executive Director of Padres & Jóvenes Unidos.) Report presenters, who are members and organizers of Padres & Jóvenes Unidos, gather for a group photo before the presentation. From left to right: Eva Gonzalez, Lorena Límon, Elodia Romero, Melissa Arreola-Pena, Marina Guerrero, Bertha Martinez (sitting in purple), Maria Parra (standing in the tan jacket), and Elsa Oliva Rocha. Melissa, and Elodia are parent organizers for PJU, Elsa is co-executive director at PJU.)

(Bertha Martinez speaks at the podium)


(Elodia Romero gestures while speaking on enrollment rates)

(Panorama photo of entire room during presentation)

(Elsa Oliva Rocha smiles at the podium)


(The woman in the pink jacket in the middle of the photo is Jennifer Bacon, Board Chair of Padres & Jóvenes Unidos)

(Elsa Oliva Rocha walks in front of the audience gathered for the ECE report presentation)

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Plan to Develop NYCHA Land ‘Moving Forward’—With or Without Resident Support

CVH - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 1:21pm


New residential towers will replace playgrounds, parking lots and greenspaces atNew York City Housing Authority complexes—no matter what the current residents want.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Register Now for the 2016 USAS National Conference!

USAS - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 3:42pm

This year we’ll gather on February 26 and 27 at the University of Pittsburgh. Click here for more information and to register TODAY. 

The 2016 National Conference is a unique chance to gather with hundreds of students committed to taking back our universities and demanding respect for workers and affordable quality education for all. At the conference, you will:

  • Learn how to organize National USAS campaigns in solidarity with workers on our campuses, in our communities, and who sew our schools’ apparel in factories abroad
  • Sharpen your organizing skills and get new ideas for your local group with workshops and trainings lead by veteran student and labor organizers.
  • Join teams of students already working to build our student-labor movement, share experiences with organizers from all walks of life, and make our work more dynamic, creative and fun.
  • Be part of a powerful, nationally-coordinated student movement that fights for justice, and wins!

Click here to learn more and register!

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

VICTORY! Northeastern Adjuncts Win Tentative Collective Bargaining Agreement

USAS - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 2:44pm

By Nora Callahan, Northeastern PSA USAS Local 115

Adjuncts at Northeastern have just joined the latest group of contingent faculty to secure a tentative agreement on their first union contract! Students, adjuncts and community allies have been working together tirelessly for the past four years on this campaign. Through vocal support, persistence, and multiple actions, together we were able to pressure the University into a tentative agreement with the adjunct bargaining committee. We fought back against our administration and the famous union-busting law firm Jackson Lewis and won, in an amazing show of student-worker power.

As a result of this long and hard-fought campaign, Northeastern adjuncts will see significant raises. They will be compensated for classes cancelled on short notice. They will now have a formal process to address workplace conflicts and access to a professional development fund. A first contract is a huge hurdle. Our administration did all they could to stifle the union effort and exhaust these academic laborers, but we won after 4 years of campaigning and over 15 months of bargaining!

The adjuncts began organizing for their union underground four years ago supported by the work of the Progressive StudentAlliance, USAS Local #115,  and members of our coalition, the Empower Adjuncts Community Coalition, made up of 15 other student groups. We have been standing by our adjuncts through the voting drive and through bargaining. We delivered letters, we paid visits to our deans, we held public office hours to highlight adjuncts’ lack of offices and the lack of respect they receive from the administration. We showed up at bargaining sessions to let those at the bargaining table know who we support. We held teach-ins and did class wraps to let our peers know what was going on on their campus. We did flashmobs . We even occupied in our president’s office building and blocked the train at our school’s stop, arm in arm with community members, to say we will not accept low wages in our community.


Finally, early this semester the administration folded under threat of a strike, a student boycott and classes cancelled by supportive tenured professors. Northeastern is nothing without its students and the people who work to make our school successful. When we organize together we are powerful, and when we fight, we win!


Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Feed the People to Free the People

SWOP - Wed, 01/27/2016 - 2:40pm

This article was written by SWOP’s Food Justice Organizer Rodrigo Rodriguez. Learn about Rodrigo’s work with Project Feed the Hood on their facebook and instagram pages, and follow him on twitter @5RO5.

Here in New Mexico, we hold this radical idea that food is a human right, and that the best way to fight hunger is to feed people. That each and every one of our relations, two- and four-legged alike, should be able to eat good food when they are hungry. These are the ideas that we hear again and again through our work at SouthWest Organizing Project in our communities. Project Feed the Hood operates under this most basic of assumptions, that ‘you can’t free the people if you can’t feed the people’.

In the 1960s, the Black Panther Party started a free breakfast program in Oakland as one of the party’s community services programs. The free breakfast program served poor neighborhoods and fed 10,000 children every morning before school. The Panthers believed that “Children cannot reach their full academic potential if they have empty stomachs.” This program was soon replicated across the country by groups like the Young Lords in New York, and here in New Mexico by the Chicana/os in the Black Berets.

The breakfast program created in Albuquerque by the Black Berets was literally the first of its kind for New Mexicans. Young people practicing self determination in the barrio, liberation through breakfast. President Johnson in 1966 created a pilot program to provide a school breakfast in a handful of rural communities. The success of the Panthers and Berets and similar programs shook the power structure to it’s foundation, challenging structural inequality and shaming elected officials. President Johnson’s pilot program was made permanent in 1975- but not before steps were taken to repress many of the community led programs. For instance, on Sept. 8, 1969 armed police raided the Watts breakfast program while children were eating.

Former Director of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover understood how power could manifest through a free breakfast program, as he made clear in this memo sent as a part of COINTELPRO on May 15, 1969:

“The BCP (Breakfast for Children Program) promotes at least tacit support for the BPP (Black Panther Party) among naive individuals… And, what is more distressing, provides the BPP with a ready audience composed of highly impressionable youths… Consequently, the BCP represents the best and most influential activity going for the BPP and, as such, is potentially the greatest threat to efforts by authorities to neutralize the BPP and destroy what it stands for.”

The way that we currently feed people in this country, and in much of the industrialized world, involves a convoluted system of government subsidies, multinational corporations, consumer protections, genetically altered cash crops, biofuels, migrant labor, factory and family farms, concentrated feeding operations, commodities speculation, capitalism and massive amounts of waste. Our food system is, in a word, broken.

In a state like New Mexico, a fundamentally agricultural state, the food system also includes complex water laws, droughts, land grabs, institutional racism and a legacy of resource extraction that leaves us with $4 billion in Big Ag. profits annually to go with some of the worst childhood hunger in the country. Nearly 1 in 3 children in New Mexico doesn’t get enough to eat, and almost 1 in 5 adults.

Since we started Project Feed the Hood in 2009, we’ve helped facilitate the investment of almost $1 million in programs that bring locally grown and healthy foods into our schools and communities. Initiatives like ‘New Mexico Grown Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for School Meals’, which provides funds from the state legislature to purchase locally grown produce for school meals. The ‘SNAP Double Up Food Bucks’ program has also incentivized eating healthy food grown locally, and is a major boost for the local economy that essentially pays for itself. “In addition to the federal food SNAP dollar that gets matched and goes directly to farmers, the funds will be matched $1 for $1 with federal grant funds. And, as we know, SNAP is one of the most important stimulus programs there are, taking every SNAP dollar spent and multiplying it by $1.8 in additional economic activity in a community,” offers Denise Miller from the New Mexico Farmer’s Market Association.

When we spend our money- even federal SNAP dollars- with our local community farmers, we take an important step toward restorative economic justice. We can have an even more profound impact by leveraging the purchasing power of school districts and other places where New Mexicans are eating public meals, such as senior citizen centers, hospitals, clinics, and correctional facilities. We’re already spending tax dollars to feed our people- we can and should be purchasing as much of that food as possible from our local farmers.

Just how big is that school district purchasing power? According to the APS approved annual budget, the district Food Services Fund “anticipates receiving $35.7 Million from revenue sources which, when added to the estimated fund balance carryover of $17.5 Million, provide $53.3 Million in total resources available in Fiscal Year 2015-16.”

To put that in perspective, Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) is the 34th largest district in the United States, with over 90,000 students, 11,500 employees and 136 schools. This year, 74 of those school qualified for The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). The CEP is a provision from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that allows schools with high poverty rates to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students. Currently, 52 elementary schools in APS are funded by the Breakfast After the Bell Program, with about 21,000 breakfast meals served every day in the city.

The question we then ask the of policy makers at APS is this: How much of that food is being purchased locally, and how much is going to a big food distributor to buy tomatoes trucked in from Mexico? And how do we use our school and food systems to build healthy kids and healthy communities?

In addition to the hunger crisis, New Mexico currently has the worst rate of childhood poverty in the country. Given the current state of our state, it’s safe to assert that the school meals being provided are a primary source of food for many of New Mexico’s young people. We owe it to them and to our future to provide the highest quality food available. We need to see more investment from the state and the expansion of training new farmers, women farmers, and especially young people of color farmers. There is a movement of growers, institutions, and community partners already working in concert to boost our economy and eradicate our child hunger crisis, and we have the knowledge, resources, and labor force necessary to build a localized food system that prioritizes our communities health and values.

Instead, what we’re seeing is a State Legislature and Governor that are largely ignoring the fact that 1 in 3 kids isn’t getting enough to eat. Similarly to other states in the nation, the New Mexico Legislature is actively seeking to roll back access to food for hungry people. One such attempt is a proposed cut of $300k from the “SNAP Double Up Food Bucks” program. There is also proposed legislation to undermine the effectiveness of “Breakfast After the Bell”. Let us also not forget the SNAP ‘Work Requirement’ fiasco, in which Governor Martinez’s newly appointed Human Services Department Secretary Brent Earnest and his predecessor Sidonie “Hunger doesn’t exist” Squier have spent the last 18 months trying to cut tens of thousands of New Mexicans off SNAP.

What HSD has disguised as a ‘work requirement’ program with time limits is really just a countdown to hunger for our most vulnerable families and community members, and an opportunity for an out-of-state contractor to profit off their poverty. The hard truth is that since the recession of 2008, New Mexico has been last in job growth and just about every other significant economic marker. There is no evidence that the corporation (SL Start) contracted to run the ‘New Mexico Works’ program has been effective at helping New Mexicans return to the workforce, either through training or job placement. Especially when the jobs just do not exist.

The reality is that the governor and legislature have failed to create meaningful job growth, nor have they stimulated New Mexico’s economy with the corporate tax packages and giveaways we’ve seen the last 5-plus years. Albuquerque is the only city of its size in the entire country to experience a double dip recession and New Mexico as a whole is more dependent on federal jobs and assistance than ever.

Our state’s most urgent needs are to address hunger, food access, and poverty rates that are the worst in the country. Meanwhile, this 2016 legislative session has seen nothing but blustering from both sides about ‘boomerang thugs’, driver’s licenses and pizza parties.

What does that mean for SWOP, Project Feed the Hood and our communities?

How do we, as a state, as local communities, as parents, teachers, students, farmers, and as eaters build a food system for New Mexico that reflects the vision, values and resources of our enchanted state?

How do we build localized food systems that work within the historical and cultural contexts of our communities to not only address hunger but also to develop food sovereignty? How do we empower communities to take control of the food they eat, the food our kids eat at schools, and to reestablish food systems, land bases, resources and practical economies that work to improve community based health and strengthen localized democracy?

We can find many of the answers in the lived experiences of our ancestors and the historical communities of New Mexico. Reconnecting traditional growing methods, holistic health practices, and a deep appreciation of our place within the global ecosystem.

There is a transformative healing nature associated with food in New Mexico. As one of our farmers, Lorenzo Candelaria, says, “comida es medicina y medicina es comida”. There is an ancient wisdom in our three sisters- corn, beans and squash- and there is inherent power in our chile, in our quelites, in our melons, in our agua and in our tierra.

Having a meal with our vecinos, growing a garden, sharing the cosecha, teaching young people, taking care of our ancianos, stewarding our land and water: these are the values of the Nuevo México that raised me. These are the values that carry me forward in the fight for food justice, for food sovereignty, and for that simple idea that you can’t free the people if you can’t feed the people.

¡Arriba Nuevo México, mi estado querido!

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Another Back Pay Win for Republic Windows Workers, Result of 2008 Plant Occupation

UE - Thu, 01/21/2016 - 3:13pm
21 January, 2016Local 1110 members and families demonstrate in front of Republic Windows during six-day plant occupation in 2008. At right is Local President Armando Robles.Chicago

Seven years after their six-day sit down at Republic Windows and Doors, which received national and worldwide attention and support, that courageous action of UE Local 1110 has brought them another victory. They will receive two weeks’ back pay from their former employer Republic Windows and Doors.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced Wednesday that it will distribute $295,000 in back pay to the workers, as a result of Republic’s unfair labor practices. The NLRB says the company illegally failed to negotiate with the union over the effects of the 2008 closing. The payout was approved by the bankruptcy court; Republic has been in bankruptcy proceedings since it closed the plant in December 2008.

"Because of our struggle workers continue to win and the proof is in this settlement payment,” says Armando Robles, president of Local 1110 and now a worker-owner of New Era Windows Cooperative. “It may have taken years, but we won what were are owed. This will help a lot of workers."  
Despite the obstacles presented by the company’s bankruptcy, the union steadfastly pursued the legal case against Republic before both the NLRB and the bankruptcy court. UE argued before the bankruptcy court in 2012 that under legal precedent, the workers are entitled to at least two weeks’ back pay. That argument has finally prevailed, and the former Republic workers will receive their checks in the next few weeks.

Workers occupied the Republic Windows factory in Chicago’s Goose Island neighborhood on December 5, 2008 after the company gave only three days notice that it was closing. On the day the plant was to close, the workers refused to leave,  demanding money they were owed, including 60 days pay because the company had violated the federal WARN Act requiring 60 days notice of a plant closing, plus workers accrued vacation pay. Their demands were directed not only at Republic’s owners but also at Bank of America, whose cutoff of Republic’s line of credit had precipitated the closing. The sit-down came just weeks after the $700 billion federal bailout of the Wall Street banks whose reckless greed had crashed the economy (in which Bank of America received $25 billion in taxpayer funds.) So the slogan of the occupation, and the movement that sprang up in support of the workers, was, “You got bailed out, we got sold out.”

Demonstrations in support of the UE members sprang up quickly at Bank of America branches across the country, and the sit in received labor and political support (including from then President-elect Obama) and massive media attention, almost all of it favorable to the workers. Faced with a public relations disaster, the bank eventually agreed to pay a $1.75 million settlement with the union. With this victory, the occupation ended on December 10, and nine days later workers received their checks.

Within months the plant reopened under a new owner, Serious Energy, largely because of the attention the workers had received because of the occupation. Vice President Joe Biden attended the grand opening in April 2009 and called it “a big deal.” But with the housing market still weak, the market for windows and doors also remained weak. Serious did not do well, and in February 2012 the new company announced that the plant would close again. The workers sat in again, this time for just 12 hours, and won a commitment from the company to keep them employed for another three months and sell the plant to a new operator, possibly to the workers.

After the closing of Serious, a group of Local 1110 members set out to restart manufacturing windows and doors as a worker-owned cooperative. New Era Windows held its grand opening in 2013. The business has become a success and is now entering its third year.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

Cholas of the Roundhouse

SWOP - Thu, 01/21/2016 - 2:07pm

This piece was written by SWOP Lead Organizer Emma Sandoval, a firme hyna from the South Valley and staunch advocate for New Mexico’s youth, women, and families.

Growing up in New Mexico

Cholas at the Roundhouse.

I grew up in a small barrio called Sunburst Ranch, right in the corazón of the South Valley. My neighborhood was nestled just below the Pajarito Mesa, a community called a colonia, which lacked basic infrastructure like running water, electricity, or paved roads. Third world conditions right in our backyard. Growing up that way wasn’t out of the ordinary, it just was the way things were.

My familia was close enough to working class, but growing up I thought we were rich because a HUD voucher allowed my parents to affordably own their own home when they were only in their twenties. A triumphant feat for two young parent from Martineztown who had both grown up in huge single-parent families. They had basically come from nothing but tortillas and fried papas, so homeownership was a pretty big deal. It was something capitalism had told them was a sign of pride. Earned only after pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. So even though their new home was in a barrio, it was still something to be extremely proud of.

My father is the most hard-working man I have ever met. With nine brothers and a sister and a father who walked out on my abuela when my pop was just a kid, my dad knew struggle. He learned quickly that hustling and hard work were equivalent to survival in the barrio.

He taught me that, too. When I was a kid he would buy me these big bags of Mexican candies from the flea market and make me sell them at school to help me pay for my lunch. I always felt all proud eating my Amadeo’s pizza at lunch because I had earned it and otherwise it would be free lunch or go hungry.

My pops worked nights at a factory packaging bread, and also had a side hustle of recycling metal at the local junk yard. Both of those jobs were extremely physically demanding. My dad would only sleep around 4-6 hours a night to make sure he could do both. He did that for 35 years and never complained or took time off. Capitalism has taught him his hustle was his pride, and he needed to do whatever to took to keep making the payments on that house of ours.

Despite the gruelling work, my dad was still just barely working class. A union man who worked for the same job for 35 years, he finally retired in 2008. At his max he earned no more than $38,000 a year; a wage that lead me to believe that capitalism was bullshit. If someone like my dad could bust his ass his whole life, play his cards by the book, be respectful, hardworking, God-fearing, and would still never make enough money to stop us from going hungry, or eventually being homeless – then the idea of “hard work paying off” in a capitalist market was nothing more than a bogus myth that kept us working hard for someone else’s profit.

My dad was and still is an angel, and that’s why I could never understand why people would want to make laws that criminalize or demean poor people. I never could understand why the establishment would  want to put limits or restrictions on things that help the poor or people who are hurting. Don’t people understand they are only further hurting people who are already broken? Don’t they know innocent children are the ones who bear the brunt of that pain?


Family secrets, community trauma, and community healing

My mama taught me the most about the consequences of hurting people who were already broken. She was the oldest of 6 kids, and she was the caretaker of her familia. She was taught at a young age that in a Chicano family, women have to do what they have to do. That usually meant we were the “take care of everything” crew. Women took care of the family, the community, and they bore all of the family secrets while silently weaving little miracles out of thin air.

My mama was a nurturer, a beautiful soul who cares so deeply about others she often put her own emotions, fear, and personal self on the back burner. She was a little brown tea pot on the back burner, slowing warming up until it would whistle.

She took really good care of us when we were little. She taught me how to read really early and people always praised me for being really smart because of it. The gift of gab, everyone would say. They’d say it was because my mama read to me. Even though her lessons were always hard ones, I think I learned way more from watching her struggle than I did from her reading books to me.

When my mother was a child she was victimized by a family member in front of her sisters. True to what she was taught, she suppressed that shit so far down that she convinced herself it never happened. Buried under the piles of secrets she was expected to burn she eventually burned herself. Homeownership, finally being out of poverty, a husband, and three beautiful babies wasn’t enough to fill the little bitty pieces of her that were broken by people who took advantage of her as a helpless child, and countless other traumas that she had experienced as consequences of growing up in extreme poverty.

It was the same kinds of trauma that happen way too often to poor children and even more often to poor kids of color. But don’t get it twisted, my mama would never let you call her a victim. She would never admit those deep wounds were not a consequences of her own doing but instead were a consequence of a cycle of systemic oppression and trauma. That’s not exactly the kind of women she was. Instead she always took the blame for it, always carried the guilt, the burden, and around the time I was 5 it finally all caught up to her. The kettle got too hot, she started to whistle and the cracks began to show.

She was running a childcare center out of our house and was also a top sales representative for Avon in the state of New Mexico at the time. My parents were still married and the double income from the constant hustling was starting to pay off. My mom got this little booth at the indoor Mercado to help make her business more profitable. It was there she met a bunch of young entrepreneurs like herself. She started partying with these people pretty regularly and she eventually picked up a drug habit that would serve to mask her trauma for the next 16 years.

My parents divorced not long after. My mom’s addiction started to spiral. My mother got custody of us because my dad was always working. We’d see less of him, but nothing could ever stop him from seeing us. Even though my dad never slept he always found a way to take us out regularly. Even if it meant going to a dollar movie and pretending he wasn’t asleep through half the movie. He always tried to give us a sense of normalcy as our lives started to spiral into something out of our control. Something that would eventually become all too normal.

One income was not enough for us to be working class anymore. My dad would give my mom most of his money in child support, while he lived with my abuela, because he didn’t have enough left over for himself to get his own place. As the money left so did my mom’s friends and so did her sanity. All they had built was crumbling, all of that guilt broke open her wounds, and fueled her drug addiction.

Shit started to get weird when my mom started dating other junkies. She stopped the Avon business, things started to go missing. She would not come home for extended periods of time, leaving us alone. There was hardly ever food in the house, the lights or phone would be disconnected and we’d always have to call my dad for more money.

My poor dad was always stuck between a rock and a hard place. There was no way we could have lived our lives without his financial support, but there was also no way we could physically live with him either. He simply worked too much. He would keep getting in these situations where he would have to choose between taking us from her, or helping her. Knowing he probably couldn’t really take us, and maybe also because he still loved her, (which he’d never admit) he always opted for helping her.

My mom made constant financial mistakes, including completely screwing over my dad on those taxes she never paid from Avon. All the while we lived off foods stamps just to eat. Sometimes we would get kicked off food stamp for whatever reason. Usually it was because my mom wasn’t around to go to the welfare office around renewal time. My mom had a habit of going missing for weeks on end. So we would just go hungry until my dad could come by or some kind neighbor would notice and invite us over for dinner. You can never forget hunger like that.

The people of the South Valley always get this bad rap because the news always highlights the killing or the gangs, but my neighbors were barrio angels, and without them I don’t think I’d be alive or where I am today. My friends’ parents were always the kindest. Even though I was usually a little asshole, so angry from feeling so abandoned, my friends’ parents would always take me in. They would briefly mention things like, “I saw your mom walking early today, have you seen her lately?”. I’d snarkily respond with something like, “Well, you’ve seen her more then I have.”

Instead of being angry with me, they’d feed me. When I’d eat like a savage, because it was usually the only home-cooked meal I had eaten in awhile, they’d say things like, “Mija you’re a good eater, want some more?” I could never thank them enough for their kindness and constant generosity. Their love taught me above all else it takes a village, and it is our duty to care for all of the children in our community, even when we are struggling too.


Fueling a commitment to Social Justice

These are the basic principle of loving and caring for one another, acting with selflessness and kindness, and not judging other because you don’t know what they’ve been through… That has fueled a passion and commitment in me for social justice.

Many of you reading this might say why fight for social justice? Your pain was your mom’s fault- others shouldn’t have to pay for her actions. At some point in my life I may have agreed with you, but as I grew up, and eventually as my mother got sober, I learned that she was trying so damn hard to mask her hurt that she hurt others in the process. She never wanted to be a drug addict, she never wanted the guilt that came with some of the things she did for a fix. She is 9 years sober now and she still has to carry around the guilt of the pain she caused her family. Guilt she tries every day to make amends for, but once you’re an addict you don’t really have a choice, and as your life and purpose leave with your habit, any hope for change usually leaves too.

My mom always tells me, “People on drugs have so much hurt, so much pain. Nothing you can do to hurt them is worse than what they are already doing to themselves when they use drugs.” Yet we spend millions of dollars trying to criminalize and hurt addicts into not wanting to use drugs anymore. It’s a pretty stupid way of trying to fix the problem. Especially when the root cause of why they use is rooted in the same pain that usually makes them want to use drugs in the first place.

These often untold stories just begin to scratch the surface of the many deeply rooted values and beliefs that have been ingrained in me through personal experience. These things give me a strong sense of urgency to fight for social justice. They are the coffee that wakes me up in the morning ready to fight every single day of my life for something better for my community. They are why a 28-year-old self identified chola would wake up every morning, and put on a suit that makes me feel hella uncomfortable, and go to lobby at the state legislature. Not because I make a big check at my nonprofit job, but because I fucking care. I care so much it eats me. It’s the tears that swell up in my eyes when I look at my child and want just so bad to one day see a better world for him. Not just for my own son either, for all the children in my hood.

The laws that are created by our government impact our communities first hand but most of the people making the laws are hella out of touch with the realities our communities face. Don’t get me wrong, some of them may have kind hearts and good intentions, but for the most part they have no clue how to fix our state’s problems, because most of them have never personally lived through them. Good intentions don’t always make good policies. More often than not those bad policies perpetuate the cycles of oppression and often hurt people more than they help.

That why I’m bringing you this blog, in part a personal endeavor and another part attempt to bring the working class perspective into the state legislature. Because the people whose voices matter the most need to be heard in Santa Fe and I am tired of my gente only having biased new stations’ perspective on what really happens in the Roundhouse.

So I ask you to check it out. Share this blog, and join me on my adventure, as cholas take over the Roundhouse…

It is our duty to fight for our freedom.

It is our duty to win.

We must love each other and support each other.

We have nothing to lose but our chains.

-Assata Shakur

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

¡Arriba Nuevo México!

SWOP - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 12:19pm

This column was submitted by SWOP’s Executive Director Javier Benavidez to the 2016 Legislative Special Edition of New Mexico InDepth. For more coverage of our Legislature, visit NM InDepth.

¡Arriba Nuevo Mexico! The spirit of Roberto Griego’s cherished anthem echoes through the Roundhouse as the 2016 New Mexico State legislative session is about to get underway. Notwithstanding the unrelenting headlines of corruption and social ills that we face year-round, there’s something rousing about a diverse group of 112 New Mexican leaders from across the state coming together in service to our homeland and to our peoples’ aspirations. As unpaid “citizen” legislators, many live close to the pain and struggles of everyday New Mexicans. We hope many legislators find the status quo intolerable. We urge each to keep the suffering of the poor, income inequality, and the injustices in New Mexico at the center of their vision.

SWOP Executive Director Javier Benavidez at the Capitol advocating for New Mexico’s future.
Photo: BurqueMedia.com

At the SouthWest Organizing Project, a grassroots community organization with a 35-year history of working for social justice in New Mexico, we are under no illusions. There are many obstacles in the way of our goal of reversing the dismal conditions impoverished people of color face day-in, day-out. Those conditions have remained largely unchanged for decades now. Therefore, as the Legislature begins its work, we encourage legislators to ask “Who pays and who benefits?” and “Who runs New Mexico?” – questions our organization’s founder, Jeanne Gauna, often posed.

For example, who has a vested interest in New Mexico remaining an environmental sacrifice zone or in reinforcing the influence of big land owners, resource extractors, and big polluters while at the same time people are being cut from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides stop-gap measures to confront the history of imposed hunger faced by one in three New Mexico children. What are the political motives?

Let’s be clear; there will be many interests at play in the Roundhouse over the next 30 days. Many special interests come to our state legislature to take resources, not to invest in New Mexico. High-paid corporate lobbyists have won hundreds of tax breaks, yet the money not collected because of them hurts our state’s education funding and other public resources, creating real consequences for everyday New Mexicans.  As we saw with the travesty of the 2013 corporate income tax package that slashed more than $260 million in taxes paid by big corporations, these failed economic development strategies amount to an upward transfer of wealth and are enabled by both sides of the aisle.

This year, we’ll be watching for the latest round of incentives requested by entities like the Santolina development. This struggle represents a historical trend in New Mexico of international financial interests like Barclays Bank using their influence to turn a profit in New Mexico, while we get stuck with the sprawl and speculative development that lessen resources for existing communities that landed our economy in a shambles in the first place.

“Tough on crime” measures look to be prominent at this legislative session, while all the evidence at our disposal demonstrates the futility of criminalization rather than rehabilitation and restorative justice strategies. We demand the opposite: actual investment in our state’s human capital in the form of early childhood education through a constitutional amendment to access our state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund. It is simply dumbfounding that our state sits on the world’s 33rd largest sovereign fund (meaning we’re wealthier than most countries), yet a handful of state senators on the Senate Finance Committee take pride in blocking distribution of 1% of that fund’s revenue to give 4-5 year olds in New Mexico access to early childhood education. That fund belongs to the people of New Mexico. What if New Mexico’s leadership made the forward-thinking decision to get our young ones started on the right foot, rather than responding to the consequences of disinvestment 20-30 years down the line?

The unfortunate truth is that many of the legislators who are at ease with the status quo thrive off low-civic engagement and a general disconnectedness between their constituents and their voting records. How would they fare in the face of full civic engagement and the power of organized people in their districts over the power of organized money? The vast majority of New Mexicans are good compassionate people, ill-adjusted to injustice, and if given the chance, would side with meaningful policy advancements that help their neighbors to thrive.

Legislators may come and go, but the people of New Mexico’s collective desire to achieve a brighter future for our state is here to stay. We will continue to champion proposals such as the early childhood education investment until they are achieved. New Mexico’s on the verge of powerful progress; the question for legislators is on which side of history they desire to be and also how they want to be remembered by generations of Nuevo Mexicanos to come.

Categories: Grassroots Newswire

UE Win at NLRB: Harassing Political Charge by Israeli Law Firm Dismissed

UE - Wed, 01/20/2016 - 12:10pm
20 January, 2016Angaza Laughinghouse, Local 150, speaking at the 2015 UE Convention on the resolution "Justice and Peace for the Peoples of Palestine and Israel."

 On January 12, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 6 dismissed an unfair labor practice charge brought by an Israeli law firm against UE over the union’s support of protests against Israeli policies.

At its national convention in Baltimore August 16-20, 2015, UE adopted a resolution endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) to pressure Israel to negotiate peace with the Palestinians and end the occupation. UE is the first national U.S. union to endorse BDS. You can read the resolution by clicking here.

On October 13, the Israeli law firm Shurat Hadin filed a charge with the NLRB alleging that UE’s resolution violated the prohibition in U.S. labor law against “secondary boycotts.” The union disputed the charge, arguing that Shurat Hadin’s action was an attempt to interfere with the First Amendment rights of the union and its members to express opinions on political and international issues, and also that the Israeli firm’s allegation were factually untrue.

UE National President Peter Knowlton says the union “welcomes the labor board’s decision” to dismiss Shurat Hadin’s charge. He said that UE in the past had “withstood attempts by the U.S. government to silence us during the McCarthy era in the 1950s,” and was “unbowed by the latest attempt of a surrogate of the Israeli government to stifle our call for justice for Palestinian and Israeli workers.” Knowlton added, “The NLRB’s decision is a victory for the growing BDS movement across the U.S., which faces increasing political attempts to silence and intimidate critics of the Israeli government.  As Americans who have a constitutional right to criticize our own government, we certainly have a right to criticize and, if we choose, boycott a foreign government that is heavily subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.”

Shurat Hadin is an Israeli organization that uses legal cases to harass supporters of Palestinian rights and critics of Israel, a strategy known as lawfare. Its most infamous case was a 2011 lawsuit against former President Jimmy Carter for writing a book critical of Israel, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. The suit against Carter failed, as did a suit aimed at censoring Al Jazeera’s reporting. Its attacks on UE began Sept. 2, 2015 when Shurat Hadin wrote a letter to the CEO of the General Electric Company, UE’s largest employer, “warning” GE to “rescind its recently concluded labor agreement” with UE because Shurat Hadin didn’t like the union’s resolution on Israel and Palestine.

The global BDS movement arose from a 2005 call by Palestinian trade unions and human rights groups. UE’s resolution also calls for a cutoff of U.S. aid to Israel and for U.S. support for a peace settlement on the basis of self-determination for Palestinians and the right to return. With its resolution UE joined the South African labor union confederation COSATU, Unite the Union in Britain and many other labor unions around the world in supporting BDS as a step toward justice and peace in Palestine and Israel.

UE is an independent, member-run union representing 30,000 workers across the country in the private and public sectors. At its five-day convention last August member delegates acted on 37 resolutions on collective bargaining, organizing, and political issues.  UE’s 2015 convention resolution, “Justice and Peace for the Peoples of Palestine and Israel”, upholds the union’s long tradition of courageous stands on foreign policy issues, which includes being the first union to oppose the Vietnam War, and its calls since the 1980s for a just and equitable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  

Categories: Grassroots Newswire