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Featured News End Mass Criminalization How One Box Locks Thousands Of Americans Out Of Employment And Into A Life Of Crime
Saturday, 15 February 2014 14:42

How One Box Locks Thousands Of Americans Out Of Employment And Into A Life Of Crime

Written by  Annie Rose Strasser | ThinkProgress
How One Box Locks Thousands Of Americans Out Of Employment And Into A Life Of Crime API/Pat Carter

Christopher Williams believes that one little box changed the trajectory of his life.

Williams has been to prison more than once. When he was inside, he tried to prepare himself for the outside, for a chance to move on from the thing for which he’d done his time, by participating in job training programs and GED classes. But when he got out, that box — the box on job applications that asks if the applicant has ever been arrested or convicted of a crime — stopped him in his tracks.

“I just got out of jail doing 6 years, and that box was the thing that kept leading me back into incarcerations,” Williams said, “due to the simple fact that I had a criminal record, and anytime you have a felony or whatever the case may be, it holds you back from certain jobs. To me, it was discrimination because, you didn’t even ask me, what do I have a felony for. You just straight up told me you’ll call me in three days and it’s been three weeks and you never called me back. I get frustrated and it leads me back to the same thing I went to jail for.”

Williams’s prospects changed dramatically in 2010, when Massachusetts banned that box from job applications of both private employers and the government. Employers can still ask whether the applicant has committed a crime, but they can’t do it on initial job applications. And Williams said that’s eliminated the automatic discrimination that never let him get his foot in the door.

“I’ve been applying to jobs, and I’ve been getting a lot of calls back, a lot of interviews, due to the simple fact that that box has changed,” Williams said. “Before they would tell me they’d call me back and I’d wait three or four weeks and they never called me back. So I’d call them, and they’d say, ‘Oh we already gave the job to somebody else.’”

The law change in Massachusetts, and the chance Williams got to have a real fresh start, wasn’t a serendipitous moment. It was a systematic effort, dreamed up by a group of ex-prisoners back in 2003, to ‘ban the box’ on applications all around the country. And it’s become a veritable movement.

Why you should care about ban the box

If you haven’t been arrested and don’t know anyone who has, then you may not realize how pervasive discrimination against former convicts is. When ex-offenders get out of jail, they don’t get to leave their criminal histories behind. Every job application, every insurance form, can be a reexamination of the time they’ve served.

The formerly incarcerated say disclosing this information can be a blow to recovering from time in prison. Though the Department Of Labor doesn’t track the unemployment rate among those returning from convictions, studies have found that it’s about 60 – 75 percent for individuals a year out. Ask people like Williams who’ve done time, and they’ll tell you it’s because their job applications aren’t being considered.

If you can’t find a job, the logic goes, then you can’t make ends meet. If you can’t afford to buy clothing or food, you might steal something to get it. If you can’t find a way out of a life of crime, there’s a good chance you’ll stay in one.

One study in New York City found that applicants were 50 percent less likely to be called back or offered a job if they had a criminal history, and that black applicants with criminal histories were far less likely than white applicants with the same background to get called back. Over 40 percent of people who go to prison in the U.S. return within three years of their release, and Williams believes that this vicious discriminatory job cycle is at least part of the reason why.

Though the movement and the laws are fairly new, banning the box has so far proved an effective policy for reducing these numbers. In Minneapolis, where a ban the box ordinance passed in 2007, the percentage of people with criminal records who were able to find work went from 6 percent to 60.

Gaining allies

In a perverted way, ex-prisoners are finding new allies in their fight against discrimination, and it’s helping a movement to ban the box take hold.

“Our estimate is that there are – and this could probably be updated – 65 million adult Americans with some type of criminal record, so with some type of serious arrest, misdemeanor, or felony,” says Michelle Rodriguez, a staff attorney for the National Employment Law Project. “That’s a huge portion then of our adult population that’s facing this. When you really start to talk to people, you really get a sense of how many people have encountered the criminal justice system.”

In the year 2011, one in every 34 American adults was in prison. The total U.S. rate of incarceration — and the rate of imprisonment of children specifically — is the highest of any developed nation. Though prison populations are steadily but slowly dropping, rates for certain populations, namely white and Latino people, is on the rise.

This means that incarceration is becoming cross-cultural, and there’s wider understanding of what it means to have a conviction on your record for the rest of your life.

“We’re really fighting a battle for the hearts and minds of the American public as well, and in that regard mass incarceration has helped,” said Linda Evans, who is a former organizer and current member of the ex-offender organizing group All Of Us Or None. “So many people’s families have been affected by people going to jail. And it’s not just people of color, it’s obviously some people — middle class people, white people, whose kids are experimenting with drugs or whatever and they end up going to prison as well, so it has broadened the amount of people that understand what the effects of incarceration are on anybody’s future. It’s become more urgent. People understand the urgency a lot more.”

Getting started

Evans’s group, All Of Us Or None, is humble about it, but they actually invented the term “ban the box.” Back in 2003, its members decided to make a concerted effort to organize around the rights of the previously convicted.

“We organized six peace and justice community forums around the state [of California] where formerly incarcerated people testified,” Evans recalls. “It became immediately clear that fundamental discrimination based on our arrest and conviction records was our problem, and that we had to go after that.”

They came up with a sustainable yet direct slogan: Ban the box. They left it vague exactly what ‘the box’ is.

The dreaded conviction question isn’t just a box on job applications. It’s on insurance forms, too. And housing applications. And enrollment for public benefits. All Of Us Or None wanted to tackle employment and housing first. They figured they’d start in San Francisco, where the organization is based and where they figured progressive support would be ample. Quickly, they were told that it was too ambitious to try both issues at once.

But after deciding to focus on banning the box on employment applications, the group made slow but steady progress. First, San Francisco ended ‘the box’ on applications for city employee positions. Then Alameda County did the same. Then Oakland, after a longer process, joined in.

“So the bay area really started to move,” Evans said.

And as for the term ‘ban the box’? “We were advised on many occasions to change the slogan,” Evans said. They were told, “‘It’s not a popular slogan, it’s too radical,’ et cetera. And I think that has been disproved by the momentum that this policy initiative really has.”

Picking up steam

It started as a simmer. San Francisco discovered that a similar movement had taken hold in Hawaii years earlier, back in 1998, and the box had been banned statewide for government employees there. Then they found out that the formerly incarcerated had started organizing in Massachusetts.

By 2004, Boston had eliminated the box for all city employees. Two years later it became the first place to extend that ban, via city ordinance, to private businesses. Chicago soon followed with its own ban the box ordinance for government employees in 2006. By 2007, seven major cities and two counties had banned the box from job applications in one form or another.

In 2006, the New York Times ran an editorial entitled “Cities That Lead The Way.”

“Taken together, the recent developments in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco symbolize a step forward in terms of fairness for law-abiding ex-offenders,” the editorial reads, “who are often barred from entire occupations because of youthful mistakes and minor crimes committed in the distant past. It should be clear to all of us by now that confining those people to the ranks of the unemployed makes it more likely that they will commit new crimes, return to prison and become a permanent burden to society.”

In dollar terms, imprisonment is certainly a “burden to society.” A comprehensive study of 40 states by the Vera Institute of Justice last year found that taxpayers are dishing out $39 billion annually for the prisons in those states. The number of taxpayer dollars spent on a single inmate a year can go as high as $60,076. But research has found that dedicating money to rehabilitation programs instead of incarceration is much more cost effective, saving taxpayers $4 for every $1 spent.

Those “Cities That Lead The Way” really did create a model for the country. Soon after they made moves to ban the box, states followed. Minnesota took the first statewide steps to end ex-offender discrimination in 2009. In 2010, four more states — California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Mexico — joined in. In 2013, five states initiated ban the box policies of some kind, four by legislation and one by administrative order.

There was also a big breakthrough at the federal level: In April of 2013, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission released new guidance on using criminal records in the hiring process. It says that employers are able to ask about criminal history, but are not permitted to discriminate based on what they find out. Doing so would violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

But advocates doubt that is enough. There’s a question of whether any employers know about those new guidelines, and even if they did, it’s hard to pinpoint the moment when that discrimination happens. When a hiring manager shuffles through a stack of papers, who’s to know if it’s that checked-off box that causes her to throw it in the trash? So the push to ban the box goes on.

Cassandra Bensahih, an ex-prisoner and current organizer with the Massachusetts-based group Ex-prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for Community Advancement (EPOCA) saw the world from either side of Massachusetts’ decision to ban the box. She had gone to prison for her first-ever offense — she was addicted to drugs — but said she didn’t realize the implications, because she didn’t have a good lawyer to tell her a one-year jail sentence would mar her record forever.

“I was in need of rehabilitation,” she said, “but the judge thought he’d send me to jail. ”

When she got out, Bensahih’s life had seriously derailed. “I left at about 4 months, but then I ended up using again because I couldn’t get a job, my kids had went to foster care. And I had no way to bring them home. I couldn’t even get an apartment. In my desperation, I decided to seek treatment out… I wanted my life back”

The treatment helped. She got into a rehabilitation program for women, got herself clean, and started getting her life back together. But there was one thing she couldn’t do.

“I can’t tell you how bad it was,” she said. “Every time I filled out an application, the anxiety, to go through the application, sounds like a good fit to you, you knew you could sell yourself, but there was that question: Have you ever been convicted of a felony or a crime?”

Bensahih got involved in the ban the box movement when EPOCA members came to speak at her rehab program. She ended up joining them in a volunteer capacity for the final two years of their 7-year fight to ban the box. EPOCA was instrumental, along with groups Boston Workers’ Alliance and Neighbor to Neighbor, in getting Massachusetts to pass its 2010 law that bars employers from asking about criminal history on initial applications, and seals all criminal records after 10 years. Bensahih’s life changed along with her state.

“Today, about four and a half years later, even with my record not being able to be sealed til 2018, I’m a community organizer,” she said. “My volunteer work led to a job with the organization I volunteered with, and now I work for EPOCA…. Everything worked out, believe it or not. I’ve had my kids for three years now. My road to recovery got better. My volunteer work helped. I got my kids back, my apartment back, my life. And believe me, sometimes I want to give them back away because they’re all teenagers, but they’re mine, and I love them. And I’m here for them today. I’m five years sober February 3rd, and counting.”

Where we’re headed

In total, 10 states have banned the box, and half of them did it last year. They’re joined by 56 local jurisdictions, by the count of the National Law Employment Project (NELP). NELP has dedicated itself to making 2014 the year to kill the box.

“We’re planning to do a lot in terms of building up resources so that campaigns can take off,” Rodriguez said. “And we’re aiming for a tipping point.”

Banning the box means different things different places. In Minnesota, for example, where 2013 was a year of massive change, the law extends so far as to tell all private employers in the state that they need a conditional offer of employment before they can check the records of an applicant they’re looking to hire. In one of the biggest signs of a shifting wind in the ban the box movement, that caused big box retailer Target, headquartered in the state, to create a company-wide policy to the same effect.

“At Target we are proud of our record on diversity and inclusivity in the workplace,” a spokesperson for the company said at the time. “Target is an industry leader in developing a nuanced criminal background check process that gives qualified applicants with a criminal history a second chance while maintaining the safety of our guests, team members and protecting our property.”

Rodriguez says NELP has identified something like Target’s policy as a supplemental ‘ban the box’ provision for places that already have some type of protection for those with criminal records.

“To be able to reach contractors, vendors, and even private employers is really where we’re seeing the next wave and where we’re trying to focus in,” she said.

They’re also looking to expand the definition of what the box means. It’s still early in 2014, but already, San Francisco’s board of supervisors has approved an effort to further extended its ban the box policy to include housing. Advocates have the box on food stamp applications in their sights as well. Indianapolis looks to be the next major city that will ban the box for employers. The rule there, if approved, would be that any office place of the government or funded by government money (contractors and subsidized businesses alike) wouldn’t be able to ask about convictions until after the first round of interviews. And at least one more state is going the way of ‘ban the box.’ Delaware has a promising piece of legislation wending its way through the state legislature that would similarly restrict ‘the box’ question during a first round of interviews.

“At least it will get you in the door,” former prison Richard Blackston told a local TV station there. “And you can be able to sit down and explain yourself…. versus the door being closed in your face before you even get to talk for yourself.”

In a sense, banning the box is more a sentiment than a singular policy: It gets people to change how they think of ex-offenders; convinces society to see them as people who may have done some bad things but are trying to get good; makes it fair that when someone’s done their time, they’re able to move on without getting bogged down by unnecessary questions.

“When you win a ban the box law or ordinance, you don’t just change those practices,” says Steve O’Neill, Executive Director for Inter-state Organizing at EPOCA, “you also kind of put a stake in the ground and say, yeah you can’t just discriminate against everyone with a criminal record. There is value to considering somebody with a criminal record. And that helps to start to shift the culture. “

Link to original article from ThinkProgress

Read 4438 times Last modified on Saturday, 15 February 2014 14:52

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    Defense contractors already are preparing for the layoffs and plant closures that will occur if Congress fails to reach a deal on the federal deficit this year, triggering $600 billion in automatic Pentagon spending cuts.

    “We are running towards a cliff, all telling each other like lemmings that somehow this isn’t going to happen,” said Marion C. Blakey, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA). “But the cliff is coming up.”

    Written on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 19:29 Read more...
  • Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Slam Latest Chapter in Republican War on Women
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Slam Latest Chapter in Republican War on Women

    Washington, D.C.--Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) today released the following statement after the House passed H.R.4970, the House Republican version of the Violence Against Women Act:

    Written on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 22:49 Read more...
  • I can best serve from outside the Congress
    I can best serve from outside the Congress

    Dear Friend,

    I would like to thank you for your support, and thank the tens of thousands of concerned Citizens for Kucinich who in the past few months have written, emailed and called to discuss my running for Congress in Washington State.

    Written on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 20:48 Read more...
  • Bush Convicted of War Crimes in Absentia
    Bush Convicted of War Crimes in Absentia

    It’s official; George W Bush is a war criminal.

    In what is the first ever conviction of its kind anywhere in the world, the former US President and seven key members of his administration were yesterday (Fri) found guilty of war crimes.

    Written on Tuesday, 15 May 2012 19:52 Read more...
  • PARODY: Mitt Romney: I Can Relate To Black People, My Ancestors Once Owned Slaves
    PARODY: Mitt Romney: I Can Relate To Black People, My Ancestors Once Owned Slaves

    In yet another seemingly faux pas moment for the former governor and presidential candidate, Mitt Romney tells a crowd of supporters in Alabama that he can relate to the plight of black individuals because his ancestors were slave owners in the 1800′s.

    Written on Saturday, 12 May 2012 16:50 Read more...
  • New York Times reports on NC Marriage Ban, WI Recall
    New York Times reports on NC Marriage Ban, WI Recall

    North Carolina's voters on Tuesday approved a constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage, joining 29 other states and the rest of the South.

     


     

    Democrats in Wisconsin have a month to persuade voters to unseat the governor, Scott Walker, in a recall election with Tom Barrett as Mr. Walker's opponent.

    Written on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 17:42 Read more...
  • Chicago pulls permit for nurses rally planned for NATO summit
    Chicago pulls permit for nurses rally planned for NATO summit

    The city of Chicago today yanked a permit for the first demonstration planned for the weekend of the NATO summit in a dispute over where the National Nurses United can hold its rally May 18.

    Written on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 13:28 Read more...
  • Socialist Wins in France: Two Articles Explain the Historical and Current Context
    Socialist Wins in France: Two Articles Explain the Historical and Current Context

    "France, Okay, But Could a Socialist Gain Power in the US? Here's How It Almost Happened" by Greg Mitchell of the Nation, and "François Hollande wins French presidential election" by Angelique Chrisafis of the Guardian.

    Written on Monday, 07 May 2012 17:44 Read more...
  • NNU Rally to Tax Wall Street and Heal America
    NNU Rally to Tax Wall Street and Heal America

    Nurses, Robin Hood and the band of merry women and men, and scores of friends
are strapping on their boots and preparing to head to Chicago Friday, May 18.

    Written on Monday, 07 May 2012 16:29 Read more...
  • 9 Swing States, Critical to Presidential Race, Are Mixed Lot
    9 Swing States, Critical to Presidential Race, Are Mixed Lot

    Since the housing bubble burst, Nevada has been plagued with record foreclosures, the nation’s steepest drop in home values and its highest unemployment rate.

    Iowa, on the other hand, may have missed out on some of the boom but was spared the worst of the bust: its housing prices have stayed relatively stable, and it now has the fifth-lowest unemployment rate in the country.

    Written on Sunday, 06 May 2012 22:46 Read more...
  • Defense trumps poverty in Republican House
    Defense trumps poverty in Republican House

    American soldiers learned the hard way not to walk down enemy trails in Vietnam — and certainly not twice. But here come the House Republicans, marching into the sunlight by shifting billions from poverty programs to the Pentagon, all within hours of adopting an entirely new round of tax cuts for those earning more than $1 million a year.

    Written on Friday, 04 May 2012 16:50 Read more...
  • McDermott Will & Emery's Pardo discusses impacts of EPA's fracking rule (video and transcript)
    McDermott Will & Emery's Pardo discusses impacts of EPA's fracking rule (video and transcript)

    How will U.S. EPA's oil and gas air rule affect the fracking industry? During today's OnPoint, Jim Pardo, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery, discusses the broader impacts of the rule ....

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 23:19 Read more...
  • One Year After Bin Laden’s Death, Bring the Troops Home Now
    One Year After Bin Laden’s Death, Bring the Troops Home Now

    Today marks one year since the death of Osama bin Laden. The CIA estimates there are fewer than 100 al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. Since ‘getting Bin Laden’ and defeating al Qaeda were the stated reasons the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, President Barack Obama should use the anniversary to announce the end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 23:12 Read more...
  • Obama's Afghanistan Speech: A Guide for the Perplexed
    Obama's Afghanistan Speech: A Guide for the Perplexed

    President Obama’s dramatic speech from Afghanistan should be parsed as a careful election-year orchestration of his plan to “wind down” the war. It is no accident that the speech came during the first-year commemoration of the killing of Osama bin Laden, the event providing Obama the rationale for ending American combat while placing hawks and political rivals on the defensive.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 23:05 Read more...
  • End Student Debt!
    End Student Debt!

    The student loan crisis finally reached center stage in Washington after the House GOP budget called for letting interest rates double on government-subsidized loans (and for deep cuts in Pell grants and other student support). If it passes, students who borrow the maximum will end up paying as much as $1,000 a year in added interest.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 20:13 Read more...
  • Women: Occupy the Left
    Women: Occupy the Left

    Women’s rights have always been a bit of an add-on for the left. At this spring’s Left Forum, only fifteen of 440 panels touched on any feminist issue, broadly understood. New Left Review is famous, at least in my apartment, for its high testosterone content (despite being edited by a woman); ditto Verso, the left’s flagship publishing house, where women authors are as rare as Siberian tigers.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 20:06 Read more...
  • Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist
    Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist

    Desperate for new revenue, Ohio lawmakers introduced legislation last year that would make it easier to recover money from businesses that defraud the state. It was quickly flagged at the Washington headquarters of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a business-backed group that views such “false claims” laws as encouraging frivolous lawsuits. ALEC’s membership includes not only corporations, but nearly 2,000 state legislators across the country — including dozens who would vote on the Ohio bill.

    Written on Monday, 23 April 2012 19:50 Read more...
  • Meet the US media companies lobbying against transparency
    Meet the US media companies lobbying against transparency

    Corporate owners or sister companies of some of the biggest names in journalism against FCC order to post political ad data. News organizations cultivate a reputation for demanding transparency, whether by suing for access to government documents, dispatching camera crews to the doorsteps of recalcitrant politicians, or editorializing in favor of open government.

    Written on Sunday, 22 April 2012 15:31 Read more...
  • Former ALEC Supporters Now Find Connection Toxic
    Former ALEC Supporters Now Find Connection Toxic

    With thousands of consumers expressing their concerns about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to corporations across America, even former supporters of ALEC are feeling the heat, and some are rushing to distance themselves from the organization. YUM! Brands (owners of KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut) became the 12th corporate member of ALEC to announce it is leaving the organization yesterday.

    Written on Friday, 20 April 2012 15:24 Read more...
  • A Cruel Ethos - Pay Upfront or Die
    A Cruel Ethos - Pay Upfront or Die

    Our acceptance of death for those who can’t afford medical care is unique among the advanced industrialized nations of the world. This ethos allows people who don’t have enough money or enough medical insurance to die everyday. We remain blind to the humanistic healthcare ethos of other nations, that result in greatly reduced costs and superior outcomes.

    Written on Wednesday, 18 April 2012 03:20 Read more...
  • Drug War Nightmare: How We Created a Massive Racial Caste System in America
    Drug War Nightmare: How We Created a Massive Racial Caste System in America

    The drug war has created a new Jim Crow system. Ever since Barack Obama lifted his right hand and took his oath of office, pledging to serve the United States as its 44th president, ordinary people and their leaders around the globe have been celebrating our nation’s “triumph over race.”  Obama’s election has been touted as the final nail in the coffin of Jim Crow, the bookend placed on the history of racial caste in America. 

    Written on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 19:15 Read more...
  • How ALEC Is Creating Florida-Style Messes in Other States
    How ALEC Is Creating Florida-Style Messes in Other States

    Wisconsin is a rod-and-gun state, with a hunting history that has fostered traditions of broad gun ownership and respect for the right to bear arms.

    So how did Wisconsin get saddled with a “Castle Doctrine” law that mirrors some of the worst aspects of the Florida legislation that's now at the center of the controversy over the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

    Written on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 17:42 Read more...
  • We Need More Heels Running Around Capitol Hill
    We Need More Heels Running Around Capitol Hill

    "[I]t will come, but I shall not see it ... It is inevitable. We can no more deny forever the right of self-government to one-half our people than we could keep the Negro forever in bondage. It will not be wrought by the same disrupting forces that freed the slave, but come it will, and I believe within a generation."

    Written on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 13:31 Read more...
  • The 1%’s Doctrine for the 99%
    The 1%’s Doctrine for the 99%

    Many on the American Right insist federal actions from the Civil War to recent banking regulations were encroachments on states’ rights and personal liberties, but underlying these claims – in the 1860s and today – is the greed of the richest 1 percent treating the 99 percent as chattel, writes Mark Ames.

    Written on Monday, 26 March 2012 21:21 Read more...
  • Congress Takes a Step or Two Forward, Two Steps Back
    Congress Takes a Step or Two Forward, Two Steps Back

    Watching some of the news coming from Capitol Hill this week, two old music videos started buzzing around in our heads. One was the classic “I’m Just a Bill,” from Schoolhouse Rock, in which a beleaguered piece of legislation sits outside on the marble steps hoping to someday become a law.

    Written on Monday, 26 March 2012 21:15 Read more...

PDA In Your State

Join "Countdown to Coverage" Share TPP with your Daily Newspaper

CWA devised a simple plan for which they were uniquely suited: drag TPP out of the shadows and into the light - one city at a time - using a medium they understand intimately: Daily Newspapers!

Two CWA members - Dave Felice in Denver, CO and Madelyn Elder in Portland, OR have started the ball rolling. We just need to keep up the momentum leading up to a big day of petition deliveries.

Button-ShareTPPWithNewspaper

Step 1 is to send an Op-Ed to your Daily Newspaper.

Sign the TPP Fast Track Petitions

MoveOn.org Petition - Congress Don't Renew Fast Track

Public Citizen Petition - Congress Must Reject Fast Track Authority

MoveOn.org Petition - Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership

CREDO Petition - Stop the Massive Corporate Power Grab

 

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of