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Issues Economic and Social Justice 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 4307 times Last modified on Saturday, 15 February 2014 14:52

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    CODEPINK Co-founder Medea Benjamin Detained, Brutally Attacked and Deported from Egypt en route to Gaza with International Delegation of Women

    CODEPINK Co-founder Medea Benjamin Detained, Brutally Attacked and Deported from Egypt en route to Gaza with International Delegation of Women

    Written on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 16:45 Read more...
  • The Progressive Movement Continues to Mature and Grow
    The Progressive Movement Continues to Mature and Grow

    In case you hadn't noticed, the debt ceiling was raised several days ago, so quietly that it barely made a ripple in the press. No threats of shutting down the government or hostage-taking emanated from Senator Mitch McConnell -- or from his even more radical right-wing cronies in the House -- this recent go around.

    Written on Friday, 28 February 2014 02:55 Read more...
  • What a Victory: How a $40 Million Attack on the Middle Class Went Up in Smoke
    What a Victory: How a $40 Million Attack on the Middle Class Went Up in Smoke

    It’s debt ceiling time, and the United States economy is once again on the brink, held hostage by extremists hell-bent on forcing cuts to Medicare and Social Security. Oh, wait. That was last year. In 2014, for the first time in three years, the vote to extend the nation’s debt ceiling did not bring the United States to the brink of default in a high-stakes game of slash and burn.

    Written on Sunday, 23 February 2014 16:37 Read more...
  • The United States of Poverty and Inequality
    The United States of Poverty and Inequality

    New report shows that no matter which state you live in, the 1% are making even more gains as the rest fall back

    Over the last three decades the wealth of the nation's very richest 1% has grown ten times that of the average worker and over that time period that same tiny elite has captured more than half of the entire income increases, leaving the bottom 99% to divide the remaining gains.

    Written on Saturday, 22 February 2014 16:11 Read more...
  • Michael Sam stands tall
    Michael Sam stands tall

    “I’m a football player, and I’m gay.” With those words, Michael Sam, an All-American defensive end from the University of Missouri, demonstrated courage far beyond that demanded on the football field. And America may, for the first time, witness an openly gay man playing professional football.

    Written on Wednesday, 12 February 2014 03:20 Read more...
  • Preserve social programs that work
    Preserve social programs that work

    I started a chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America in Springfield a few years ago. Since then our chapter has grown to include the Greater Springfield Area. At an event last fall in front of U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin’s office we had 75 folks attend from various unions and organizations, many of them traveling from Normal, Bloomington, Peoria, Jacksonville, Morrisonville and Champaign.

    Written on Friday, 07 February 2014 03:25 Read more...
  • Conversations with Great Minds P1 - Rep Keith Ellison - My Country 'Tis of Thee
    Conversations with Great Minds P1 - Rep Keith Ellison - My Country 'Tis of Thee

    Congressman Keith Ellison(D-MN, 5th District) / Author of the new book, My Country 'Tis of Thee: My Faith, My Family, Our Future joins Thom Hartmann.

    Written on Thursday, 06 February 2014 22:36 Read more...
  • JESSE JACKSON: Response to President Obama's 2014 State of the Union Address
    JESSE JACKSON: Response to President Obama's 2014 State of the Union Address

    The country seems turned off and tuned out to the Congress, politics generally and the federal government in particular. The good news is the emerging grass-roots movement exemplified by The Dreamers and the burgeoning campaign among low income workers around the nation, offering a clear challenge to the political gridlock, the inaction and non-work by Congress. Seeking to respond to this grassroots energy and to combat the frustration many people are feeling around the country, President Obama presented an optimistic tone, an uplifting message and a new plan of action to move America forward.

    Written on Thursday, 30 January 2014 20:01 Read more...
  • State of the Union: Right on Wages, Wrong on Trade
    State of the Union: Right on Wages, Wrong on Trade

    President Obama wants 2014 to be a “year of action” in which the country finally begins to address a wealth gap that has made the term “income inequality” the catchphrase of the moment. And he framed the crisis well in his fifth State of the Union address:

    Written on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 17:32 Read more...
  • House passes $956B farm bill
    House passes $956B farm bill

    The House on Wednesday approved a mammoth, $956 billion farm bill in a bipartisan vote.

    Members approved the House-Senate agreement on farm policy in a 251-166 vote. A majority of Republicans backed the bill, with 63 GOP no votes. But a majority of Democrats opposed it, with 103 voting no.

    Written on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 16:45 Read more...
  • Pete Seeger: This Man Surrounded Hate and Forced it to Surrender
     Pete Seeger: This Man Surrounded Hate and Forced it to Surrender

    When some of the greatest musicians in the world gathered five years ago to celebrate the ninetieth birthday of the musician who inspired them all, Bruce Springsteen told Pete Seeger: “You outlasted the bastards, man.”

    And so he did.

    Written on Wednesday, 29 January 2014 16:30 Read more...
  • State of the Union: It doesn’t have to be this way
    State of the Union: It doesn’t have to be this way

    President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night will focus on inequality, on the reality that this economy does not work for working people. Given the obstruction of House and Senate Republicans, the president faces the reality that little of what he proposes can pass this Congress. He has vowed to use his “pen” and “phone” to act unilaterally where he can. But the real challenge is to explain to the American people what the reality is, what must be done and who is standing in the way.

    Written on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 15:56 Read more...
  • Ellison’s Steps to Income Equality: More Powerful Unions and Weaker Trade
    Ellison’s Steps to Income Equality: More Powerful Unions and Weaker Trade

    Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairman Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said that increasing the power of unions is key to addressing income inequality in America.

    “We need a comprehensive plan, but let’s start with increasing the right to collective bargaining,” Ellison said on MSNBC. “We’ve got to get workers on the job in a position to demand that the wealth that they create be shared by the company. That’s a key thing. If you look at how wages has stagnated in the United States and you look at how union did something that has gone down, the lines track right together. You got to get power in the hands of the workers. That’s key.”

    Written on Thursday, 23 January 2014 18:18 Read more...
  • Celebrating MLK: A drum major for justice
    Celebrating MLK: A drum major for justice

    As I went from event to event Monday celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King, I was struck by both the tribute and the distortion.

    The tribute is remarkable. Martin Luther King held no public office. He amassed no great fortune. He led no victorious armies

    Written on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 16:03 Read more...
  • Keith Ellison Blasts Inaction on Government-Backed Poverty: “The Most Remarkable Dodge I’ve Ever Seen”
    Keith Ellison Blasts Inaction on Government-Backed Poverty: “The Most Remarkable Dodge I’ve Ever Seen”

    One day after a top Obama administration official deflected a congressman’s call for executive action to raise labor standards for contractors, activists Wednesday announced the filing of a new Department of Labor complaint over alleged wage theft in a government building. The complaint alleges that dozens of workers in D.C.’s government-owned Union Station are owed over $3 million in back pay and damages for rampant failure to pay minimum wage or overtime.

    Written on Saturday, 18 January 2014 16:26 Read more...
  • King’s evolving Dream
    King’s evolving Dream

    It is that time to pause and think about the incredible life and contributions of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., oftentimes referred to as MLK. He was named Michael King Jr. after his father ­ who later changed both their names to Martin Luther, in honor of the religious reformer.

    Written on Saturday, 18 January 2014 15:37 Read more...
  • Moral Monday Movement Spreads Through the South
    Moral Monday Movement Spreads Through the South

    After drawing thousands of protesters to the state legislature and inspiring the arrests of more than 900 people for nonviolent civil disobedience, North Carolina's Moral Monday movement challenging the extreme conservative agenda of the state's Republican-controlled legislature and administration is gearing up for more actions in 2014.

    Written on Monday, 13 January 2014 13:30 Read more...
  • On 50th anniversary of 'War on Poverty' speech, Worcester Rep. Jim McGovern says cuts to SNAP are 'war on poor people'
    On 50th anniversary of 'War on Poverty' speech, Worcester Rep. Jim McGovern says cuts to SNAP are 'war on poor people'

    U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern says the "War on Poverty" has shifted from helping the poor to fighting them.

    McGovern, a Democrat who represents the 2nd district, spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday about hunger in America and potential cuts to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) in the proposed Farm Bill.

    Written on Saturday, 11 January 2014 15:37 Read more...
  • War on Poverty wages on
    War on Poverty wages on

    Fifty years ago this week, President Lyndon Johnson, lamenting that too many Americans “live on the outskirts of hope,” declared an “unconditional war on poverty in America.” This will not be “a short or easy struggle,” he stated in his State of the Union address to the Congress, “no single weapon or strategy will suffice, but we will not rest until that war is won. The richest nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it.”

    Written on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 18:11 Read more...
  • Will New York City Lead the Way on Pre-K?
    Will New York City Lead the Way on Pre-K?

    At the Future of America Learning Center in the West Bronx, the pre-K curriculum is built around adult jobs—visiting real workplaces and then learning about the vocabulary and skills that grown-ups use every day.

    Written on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 01:24 Read more...
  • Advice for Young Women: Get a Union Job
    Advice for Young Women: Get a Union Job

    Back in the days before modern feminism, a young woman looking for work might typically be advised, politely, to “learn a trade,” with the implication that she wasn't bound for college or an elite career, but a humbler job as, say, a secretary or seamstress. Such a phrase might sound condescending today. Yet working in a trade might still be sound career goal for a woman, if she gets the right kind of job—in a union.

    Written on Tuesday, 24 December 2013 21:30 Read more...
  • Walmart Workers Will Make History on Friday As America Confronts Growing Inequality
    Walmart Workers Will Make History on Friday As America Confronts Growing Inequality

    This Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, tens of millions of Americans will travel to Walmart stores to look for holiday discounts on computers, toys, and cell phones as well as to buy groceries and basic household items.

    Written on Saturday, 30 November 2013 15:20 Read more...
  • McDonald's: Low-Paid Workers, High-Flying Execs
    McDonald's: Low-Paid Workers, High-Flying Execs

    He was CEO of the hamburger behemoth, McDonald's, pulling down a hefty $8.8 million in pay. Last year, though, Skinner retired, and, rather than getting a gold watch, he was given a load of gold — so large that even a Brink's armored truck would have been too small to haul it all away. His salary of $753,000 was the least of it.

    Written on Thursday, 21 November 2013 13:44 Read more...
  • Growing Movement: Expand Social Security or 'Pay a Price'
    Growing Movement: Expand Social Security or 'Pay a Price'

    Sen. Warren: 'Social Security is incredibly effective, it is incredibly popular, and the calls for strengthening it are growing louder every day.'

    With Social Security cuts once again on the table in closed-door congressional budget negotiations, a growing movement has taken the offensive, demanding that lawmakers strengthen, rather than stranglehold, our social safety net.

    Written on Thursday, 21 November 2013 13:36 Read more...
  • Paul Ryan Gets 700,000 ‘No’ Votes on Social Security Cuts
    Paul Ryan Gets 700,000 ‘No’ Votes on Social Security Cuts

    Ryan’s office on Wednesday received a petition signed by more than 700,000 people that said there should be “no grand bargain” in the budget negotiations being led by Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., “in exchange for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.”

    Written on Saturday, 16 November 2013 03:10 Read more...
  • House Dems Can Block GOP Food Stamp Cuts—By Killing the Farm Bill
    House Dems Can Block GOP Food Stamp Cuts—By Killing the Farm Bill

    The farm bill will almost inevitably include deep cuts to the food stamps program—unless House Democrats join with conservatives to kill the bill. The food stamps program—which helps feed one in seven Americans—is in peril. Republicans in the House have proposed a farm bill—the five-year bill that funds agriculture and nutrition programs—that would slash food stamps by $40 billion. But by taking advantage of House Republicans' desire to cut food stamps as much as possible, Democrats might be able to prevent cuts from happening at all.

    Written on Tuesday, 12 November 2013 15:28 Read more...
  • Food Stamps, Yes!
    Food Stamps, Yes!

    If you’re reading this column, you probably don’t participate in a government program such as SNAP, to help provide food for your family. If you can afford to have a newspaper delivered to your home, or if you have a computer and an internet connection so you can read online, you may have more than enough money for food.

    Written on Friday, 04 October 2013 01:50 Read more...

Does Your Legislator Support the Robin Hood Tax?

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.

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Hand Deliver a Letter to your Rep on Jobs

If your Representative is not currently a cosponsor of HR 1000 they may not completely understand how important full employment is to your community; click on your state at the bottom of this page to see all the cosponsors in your state. Nothing sends a stronger message to a Congressional member than a personal visit to a district office by a voter with a written request. Phone calls and emails are incredibly important but nothing gets attention like a personal visit. Our Educate Congress page has information and a sample letter. Print the letter, sign it, deliver it.

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Report on your TPP Contact

Please let us know your legislator's stance on Fast Track Authorization for the Trans Pacific Partnership as well as their stance on the TPP in General. Click here to report the response.

The Robin Hood Tax

Robin Hood Tax: John Nichols and Keith Ellison and Michael Lighty

Why The Robin Hood Tax

Rep. Jim McGovern on Protecting SNAP

Workers Speak Out on the TPP

PDA Labor Panel - Progressive Central III

Main Street NOT Wall Street

The Trans Pacific Partnership: Corporate Global Domination

Lori Wallach on the TPP from PDA Progressive Roundtable

Progressive Roundtable with Reps. Ellison and Pocan and Lori Wallach on TPP

Lori Wallach Leaked TPP Documents (Democracy NOW)

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

Lori Wallach on Thom Hartmann (Great Minds) - The TPP

TPP Downloads

The following documents are available from the Oppose TPP Downloads Folder

June 29th TPP Powerpoint

CWA TPP Jobs Report

Endorse HR 1000

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