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Issues Economic and Social Justice Economic and Social Justice Protesters Gain Detroit Water Shut-Off Moratorium, Demand Investigation of Suspected Rampant Corruption
Wednesday, 20 August 2014 01:47

Protesters Gain Detroit Water Shut-Off Moratorium, Demand Investigation of Suspected Rampant Corruption

Written by  Victoria Collier and Ben-Zion Ptashnik, Truthout | News Analysis
Detroit activists march for restoring local democracy and economic justice, and an end to the water shut-offs, July 18, 2014. Detroit activists march for restoring local democracy and economic justice, and an end to the water shut-offs, July 18, 2014. (Photo: Victoria Collier)

A new mass rally in Detroit is planned for Friday, August 29, the day the state-enforced city bankruptcy trial begins. Democracy activists throughout the Midwest are again urged to come demonstrate against the water shut-offs and the hostile takeover of Detroit's assets.

In this period of mass despair over rampant political corruption and economic injustice in America, many people ask, "Does protest really make a difference?" The answer is yes, and it is being proven right now in Detroit, the frontline battleground in the growing resistance movement against the hostile corporate takeover and looting of American cities nationwide.

Detroit is the model for a nascent democracy mass movement. On July 18, thousands of demonstrators from around the country linked arms and marched in downtown Detroit, past the City Emergency Manager's office and the JP Morgan Chase Bank, in a show of solidarity against the ongoing corporate-led assault on city worker's pensions and most recently, the indiscriminate shut-off of water, without notice, to more than 15,000 families, mostly African American.

While businesses, large corporations and banks - 55 percent of which were in arrears on water bills - were exempted from the shut-offs, service to 40,000 homes was reportedly on the chopping block. Thousands had already been left without clean water, with no concern shown for infants and children, pregnant women, the sick, elderly or handicapped. Many Detroit activists and civic leaders, including Congressman John Conyers, attended the rally at Hart Plaza and decried the water shut-offs as a human rights violation and a public health crisis.

As one prominent sign at the front of the rally stated, "WHERE DO YOU EXPECT US TO SH*T?"

On the same morning that the protest rally exploded, civil disobedience was used to block private company trucks performing the shut-offs from leaving their garage. Nine activists were arrested, including three clergy members and Baxter Jones, an activist with a disability who uses a wheelchair for mobility. Pastor Bill Wylie-Kellermann stated after his arrest: "Detroit is under assault by lawless and illegitimate authority. It's a moral issue. As religious leaders and allies, we are upping the ante, spiritually and politically, by putting our bodies in the way. We pray to intensify the struggle with civil disobedience, even as it is broadened with mass action and legal challenge. As one of our fallen mentors Charity Hicks urged, we are seeking to 'wage love' in the face of death. Such deeds can sometimes break the dreadful silence of our occupied corporate media."

The protest actions, following an admonition from the United Nations that Detroit's water shut-off was indeed a human rights violation, embarrassed both Governor Rick Snyder and his appointed "Emergency Manager," Kevin Orr. Within three days, Orr announced a 15-day moratorium of the shut-offs; a respite later extended to August 24. Soon after, Orr relinquished administration of the Water Department to the city.

The demonstrations may ultimately serve to deter a planned privatization of the city's water system: a Detroit asset estimated to be worth many billions of dollars that sits adjacent to 21 percent of the world's freshwater supply in the Great Lakes.

Also clearly irritated by the attention on the shut-offs was Federal Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, who demanded an explanation from the city, stating that the water issue was hurting Detroit's reputation in the world community. The mass actions turned a powerful national spotlight on Detroit's controversial bankruptcy, including full coverage of the resulting water war on major TV and cable networks, and in printed press ranging from the Detroit Free Press to the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

Detroit activists "felt the love" as the media and internet were lit up and news of the protests went viral; thousands of blogs and social media communications spread the word, and within days, perhaps millions became aware of Detroit's crisis. The coverage illuminated the role of criminal banks and real estate moguls, as well as the attacks on pension funds and attempted privatization of the water system.

Overnight, this local crisis emerged as an example of the national "shock doctrine" strategy being spread like a plague by the Tea Party and ALEC; exposing their "emergency management" laws as facilitating a strategy to undermine democracy and pave the path for surreptitious privatization of public assets.

The rally shed light on the complicity of the major Wall Street banks in Detroit's economic spiral, banks whose investors continue to thrive while Main Street takes the brunt of the financial losses they caused. "Detroit is just the canary in the mine" was a refrain often repeated by the rally speakers.

As the protestors marched, filling the street for blocks, chanting, "The banks got bailed out, we got sold out," they were joined by at least 500 participants from the annual NetRoots Nation Conference, who held signs while shouting, "Water is a human right." The Netroots organizers had generously revised their schedule at the last minute to encourage conference participants to join the march.

The successful and morale-building protest actions were coordinated by a coalition from the Detroit community including the People's Water Board, Moratorium Now Michigan, the Freedom Fridays Coalition, the Detroit chapter of the National Action Network, with superb support and coordination from the National Nurses Union and local Michigan and Ontario, Canada, Nurses Union chapters. 

In a spirited pre-rally meeting of about 40 activists and civic leaders, local organizers were eloquent in expressing that Detroit need not be "rescued" by outsiders, but rather recognized for the important national work its citizen-activists are already performing on the front lines of the struggle for democracy. The meeting ended with a prayer circle led by former City Council member JoAnn Watson.

Activists Demand Investigation of Governor

One factor clearly exposed during the protests was that Detroit's bankruptcy was precipitated by Governor Snyder, who merely feigned concern for Detroit's "insolvency," while advancing a corporatist agenda. Activists are now demanding an investigation of the "default swap" obligation foisted on the city by the governor and the major banks. Attorney Jerry Goldberg, who has been helping Detroit foreclosure victims for years, is part of the Moratorium Now Coalition. He points to reports in Bloomberg News, showing that the minute Governor Snyder announced that the state was planning a financial review of Detroit, the city entered a "credit event" that precipitously forced Detroit to immediately pay off the default swaps and created a crippling cash-flow crisis. 

In fact, the declaration of the financial review set into motion a massive, automatic $536 million dollar payment by the Detroit Water Department to the Wall Street banks; a questionable and perhaps fraudulent pay-out that added zero dollars to needed Water Department capital improvements and forced the utility to fire 80 percent of its employees. 

"The money used to unwind the swaps would almost cover the utility's $571.7 million in planned capital spending for the five years through June 2016," said the Bloomberg report.

Monica Lewis Patrick, an activist with We the People of Detroit, points out that the ubiquitous right-wing racist attacks vilifying Detroiters as the cause of the water department's long-term financial problems conveniently skirts the role of the banks, the governor and the legislature in triggering the credit default swaps payments.

After Emergency Manager Orr relinquished administration of the Water and Sewage Department back to the city of Detroit, activists were also quick to note that the move was clearly aimed at distancing the politically vulnerable Governor Snyder from the embarrassment of an emerging scandal in the months preceding his November bid for reelection. Snyder's Democratic opponent Mark Schauer had already caught up with Snyder in polls taken before the protest.

The city administration quickly announced the renewal of a program to help financially strapped Detroiters pay off their water bills. However, local activists report that thousands who were shut off in spring and early summer are still without water, and some believe that this new program is a political smoke screen aimed at protecting the larger economic austerity Plan of Adjustment for Detroit, forwarded by the emergency manager.

Many advocates quickly exposed the fact that a democratic, citizen-driven water affordability plan to help strapped utility customers had been previously ignored.

Michael Shane of the Freedom Fridays Coalition also pointed out that although the city was given day-to-day operational management, the emergency manager still has the power to privatize or "regionalize" the water department in bankruptcy court.

Democracy has been attacked on multiple fronts in Michigan. Today over 50 percent of Michigan's African- American population lives in 6 cities without democratic representation. The Emergency Management Law promoted and passed in 2011 by the Tea Party-dominated legislature had been rescinded by Michigan citizens in a public referendum vote in the election of 2012. But the right-wing power brokers in Lansing ignored the will of the people. In a lame-duck session, they deviously passed a new, nearly identical law, and coupled it with an appropriation of funds, rendering it referendum-proof. 

Detroit's Democracy Eliminated

Within months, Detroit's democracy was eliminated by a "declaration of financial emergency" by the Governor. Elected officials were summarily stripped of executive powers, and soon after, the new Emergency Manager Orr unilaterally filed for bankruptcy in Federal Court, without a vote of the Detroit City Council, a move ostensibly unconstitutional in Michigan. In a controversial ruling, Federal Judge Rhodes accepted the filing.

Tom Barrow, a Detroit civic leader, CPA and mayoral candidate, argued that the city did not ever default on a bill or a pension obligation, and therefore Detroit did not need to file bankruptcy. He stated vociferously that Detroit could have resolved its long-term debt if the Governor had not intervened.

Many local activists also believe that Mayor Mike Duggan is part of the corrupt regional power cabal, and that he was foisted on Detroit in a political coup - a fraudulent election - simply to enable the bankruptcy. In 2013, Duggan was elected as a write-in candidate in an election featuring a multitude of infractions, including unsealed ballot boxes and duplicate ballots with what appears to be identical handwriting.

Jean Vortkamp, a member of the Freedom Fridays coalition, held up copies of the duplicate ballots at the July 18 rally, as she did in bankruptcy court. She asked how Duggan, who just prior to the election moved to Detroit from Livonia, the whitest of white surrounding enclaves, managed to garner 52 percent of the vote as a write-in candidate, in a city 83 percent African-American. She points out that Duggan was a classmate of both Snyder and Orr at University of Michigan Law School, and that as CEO of the Detroit Medical Center, Duggan led the hospital into privatization. Vortkamp is white, but deeply distrusts the state's white power structure.

Detroit advocates also object to the intrusive right-wing forces of ALEC, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and Business Leaders for Michigan (BLM), which includes as a member Dan Gilbert, a politically connected billionaire who made his fortune as the owner of Quicken Loans Corporation, and who is now a major casino owner and landowner in downtown Detroit. Gilbert is accused by some Detroit activists of being an unabashed opportunist who snapped up abandoned real estate properties and homes for "nickels on the dollar" after the 2008 crisis. Although Quicken was not directly implicated in the fraudulent sub-prime mortgage scandal, Gilbert clearly profited from the housing bubble. Now as many of the subprime loans in Detroit have defaulted, Gilbert is cashing in on the crisis to become the largest real estate mogul in Detroit and a leader in the gentrification of the downtown.

Bundling of campaign contributions from Gilbert's empire to Duggan are evident: Records filed by the Michael Duggan for Mayor Committee confirm the Quicken Loans PAC donated $34,000 to Duggan's committee. The records also show 18 people identified as employees of Quicken Loans donated the maximum $3,400 allowed under Michigan law. Combined with other Quicken employees who donated smaller amounts, Gilbert's workers donated at least $61,375 directly to Duggan's mayoral committee. Altogether, cash from Quicken workers and the Quicken PAC made up the largest bloc of Duggan's financial supporters, according to campaign records.

In the early 20th century, Detroit was a city of 1.5 million, with a black ghetto of a few hundred thousand souls confined to 60 teeming square blocks downtown. Racism in Michigan was rampant, with crippling housing and employment discrimination, and with 30,000 members of the KKK in Detroit alone. In those days, the few black police officers hired to patrol Afro-American communities were forbidden to arrest whites. "White flight" reduced the city's population and tax base drastically. Today Detroit is a city of just over 700,000 citizens, struggling to maintain the integrity of their communities and the right to decide their own future.

These factors are not a visible part of the mainstream media narrative about Motor City, nor in the state capital, where the conversations often focus or devolve to how Detroit politicians and deadbeats are the main cause for the downward economic spiral of this battleground city. These attitudes are blatantly racist, but they are also clearly the overarching background to the unfolding drama in bankruptcy court.

Major Media Misses the Story

Casting Detroit's minority population in derogatory and inflammatory language has become commonplace. Municipal leaders claim it is deliberately aimed at inflaming latent racism and fear among Michigan's working- and middle-class whites, in a classic reworking of the Willy Horton ads of the Bush Senior presidential campaign of 1988.

Also not reported in the mainstream press is the cold hard fact that tens of thousands of Detroiters have to choose monthly between paying their water bills, keeping the heat and electricity service in their houses, or feeding their children. Nor that their economic crisis was exacerbated this winter by the polar vortex, which dropped temperatures to record lows in the Midwest, costing dearly in heating bills. Those who deride Detroiters as merely "unwilling to pay their water bills" also fail to acknowledge that city water bills are now at twice the rates of the wealthier surrounding suburbs and towns, white enclaves who utilize and benefit from Detroit's water system.

The controversial bankruptcy trial has been repeatedly delayed, but is slated to begin at the end of August. The new schedule allows for 29 days of trial over seven weeks.

The Detroit community has been reinvigorated by the victories of last month, and it is ready to do battle at the bankruptcy court trial set to start on August 29. A team of activist lawyers, led by Attorney Alice Jennings, are filing various motions aimed at contesting the bankruptcy and exposing the injustices perpetrated by the right wing and racist attacks on Detroit.

The Detroit community is urging activists to come to the mass demonstration on August 29 and take a stand in solidarity for justice and democracy.

Link to original article from Truthout

Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission

Read 2232 times Last modified on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 01:53

Trans Pacific Partnership Fast Track - Where Does Your Legislator Stand

Click your state to see your Senators and Representatives

Green = Most Legislators Oppose Fast Track, Yellow = Some Opposition, Orange = Oppose TPP, Gray = Unknown
DeLauro 13 - Signed 2013 DeLauro/Miller letter
Pocan - Signed Freshman Letter Opposing Fast Track
W/M - Signed Ways and Means Letter opposing TPP
Gibson - Signed Rep. Chris Gibson letter opposing TPP
SOPA - Oppose Stop Online Piracy Act - voted against
Currency - Oppose Currency Manipulation (Signed Michaud Letter)
Textile - Oppose changes to "First Yarn" (Signed Textile Industry Letter)

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  • GOP’s shameful treatment of the powerless
    GOP’s shameful treatment of the powerless

    The Bible’s injunction that we shall be judged by how we have treated the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40) appears in different forms in virtually every religion or faith. And surely the measure of a country is how it treats the most vulnerable of its people — children in the dawn of life, the poor in the valley of life, the ailing in the shadows of life, the elderly in the dusk of life.

    Written on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 00:58 Read more...
  • NELP Applauds Senate Vote to Renew Emergency Jobless Aid
    NELP Applauds Senate Vote to Renew Emergency Jobless Aid

    Unemployed Ohio Navy Veteran Urges House Speaker Boehner to Hold Vote

    Statement of Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, on the U.S. Senate’s passage of the bipartisan five month renewal of federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation:

    Written on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 00:18 Read more...
  • Thoughts on a Bernie Sanders Run
    Thoughts on a Bernie Sanders Run

    ... if the candidate has a real mass base, is building a broad progressive front around a clear, transformational program, and sees the candidacy as one step in a multitiered process, then it might be worth going for it.

    Written on Sunday, 06 April 2014 00:27 Read more...
  • How Social Security Was Saved
    How Social Security Was Saved

    The release of the White House’s 2014 budget in April 2013 was a stomach-churning occasion for American seniors who depend on Social Security. In an effort to woo the austerity-now crowd, President Barack Obama included in his proposal a new formula to calculate Social Security cost-of-living adjustments: the chained consumer price index, or chained CPI. Presented as a harmless technocratic fix, chained CPI would have hit America’s retirees in the pocketbook by reducing their Social Security cost-of-living increases.

    Written on Tuesday, 25 March 2014 00:00 Read more...
  • 'Better Off' Budget Attacks Status Quo with Bold Progressive Vision
    'Better Off' Budget Attacks Status Quo with Bold Progressive Vision

    Economic blueprint by Congressional Progressive Caucus makes commanding argument for what's possible, but will it again be ignored by nation's powerful elite?

    Written on Thursday, 13 March 2014 22:09 Read more...
  • Why I Didn’t Make it to Gaza for International Women’s Day
    Why I Didn’t Make it to Gaza for International Women’s Day

    When I boarded the plane to Cairo, Egypt, to make sure everything was in place for the women’s delegation headed to Gaza, I had no reason to think I’d end up in a jail cell at the Cairo airport and then violently deported.

    Written on Thursday, 13 March 2014 18:51 Read more...
  • UDC Law School - Social Justice Law
    UDC Law School - Social Justice Law

    The public service-oriented UDC David A. Clarke School of Law (www.law.udc.edu) is the public law school of the nation’s capital. Unlike most other law schools in America, all UDC-DCSL students receive a high-quality, practical, hands-on program of legal study. In addition to the traditional law curriculum, each UDC-DCSL student, under the close supervision of attorney-professors, provides 700 hours of much-needed legal service to low-income Washington, DC residents in one of the School’s eight clinics.

    Written on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 19:20 Read more...
  • I was brutally attacked.
    I was brutally attacked.

    Just the other day I hopped on a plane to Egypt, eager to join the international delegation of 100 women headed to Gaza for International Women’s Day. Little did I know I would be stopped at the Cairo airport, detained, held overnight in a cell, then in the morning brutally assaulted by Egyptian authorities. 

    Written on Thursday, 06 March 2014 21:42 Read more...
  • Bernie Sanders: ‘I Am Prepared to Run for President of the United States’
    Bernie Sanders: ‘I Am Prepared to Run for President of the United States’

    Bernie Sanders says he is “prepared to run for president of the United States.” That’s not a formal announcement. A lot can change between now and 2016, and the populist senator from Vermont bristles at the whole notion of a permanent campaign.

    Written on Thursday, 06 March 2014 21:24 Read more...
  • 2 Million People Cut Off Unemployment Benefits
    2 Million People Cut Off Unemployment Benefits

    WASHINGTON – The number of people who have lost their unemployment benefits as a result of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program’s expiration has surpassed two million this week, according to a new analysis from Ways and Means Committee Democrats.

    Written on Wednesday, 05 March 2014 17:01 Read more...
  • Egyptian Police Detain, Assault, & Deport Peace Activist Medea Benjamin
    Egyptian Police Detain, Assault, & Deport Peace Activist Medea Benjamin

    On route to a women’s conference in Gaza, Code Pink founder and peace activist Medea Benjamin was detained by Egyptian police and held in an airport prison cell for several hours without being charged. During her detention, the petite Benjamin said she was “jumped on” by Egyptian police and “violently handcuffed” resulting in a  fractured my arm, dislocated my shoulder, torn ligaments.

    Written on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 21:20 Read more...
  • 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

    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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