Saturday I had the privilege of attending a training session hosted by the staff of Community Voices Heard in New York for their volunteers from around the state and it was an awesome experience. Volunteers from three of CVH’s four chapters gathered in Newburg to learn organizing and how to make it work in their community. They also took on the responsibility of identifying local races to focus on and the amount of work they would be able to do to make a difference in those races. The energy and empowerment of the volunteers on Saturday was off the charts! True grassroots organizing going on in New York State!
Kim Mack, Pushback Network Field Director
Pushback affiliate PLAN (Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada) set up camp this week to protest budget cuts to education being proposed by Nevada governor Brian Sandoval. They filled the Capitol grounds in Carson City with students, social service workers, teachers and activists who are spent the week in tents to lobby for a tax increase to fund education. The students did get a meeting with the Governor, check out this story from the Las Vegas Sun: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/may/18/gov-sandoval-tries-win-over-critics-doughnuts-coff/
There is more information, pictures and video on their awesome effort here: http://www.wakeupnv.com/!
Keep up the great work!
CVH Helps to Organize Major Week of Mobilization on Wall Street
Community Voices Heard was one of the organizing groups involved in helping to pull off a week of actions, culminating in a major march on Wall Street. CVH mobilized to bring attention to the devastating budget cuts being proposed in NYC by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and lifting up the role of the banks and Wall Street in the financial crisis that is leading to lower taxes and, in turn, proposed budget cuts. CVH feels that it’s a revenue crisis, not a spending crisis. The Banks and Wall Street need to pay their fair share so that poor people don’t have to pay the price! The culminating march brought out over 20,000 people – community groups, unions, students, etc.
by Peter Hardie, PBN Executive Director
With a great deal of sadness, I want to say goodbye to the friends and communities of the Pushback Network, and all its allies and partners in the world of community organizing and participatory democracy. I am leaving the position of executive director in the coming month, as new challenges call. I will not be going far.
I leave knowing two things: there is lots more work to do, and there are tremendous folks capable of and committed to doing that work. The path to a better world is a tortuous one, and never a quick one. The challenge is to push on, sharpen our understanding, strengthen our communities and lift up new leaders every day. [Read more]
by Brigid Flaherty
March 30, 2010
Wisconsin and Ohio are not only ground zero for the battle to protect workers’ rights; they are also the epicenter to preserve democracy as we know it. While Governors Walker and Kasich vehemently blame pubic employees for their state budget crises, the onerous legislation they and their Republican armada have unlawfully passed, represents more than an assault on unions. The stripping away of the rights of working people, the very people who built this county, road by road, building by building, field by field, is nothing more than an attack on progressive, organized voting power in this country.
Recently I was in Ohio helping to organize a rally against Senate Bill 5, the union-stripping bill that would deny over 300,000 working people the right to collectively bargain. Touching down in Columbus, my primary goal – working with allies such as Jobs with Justice — was to mobilize and turn out as many teachers, families, pastors, students, queers, union members, and non-union members as I could. From watching news reports on the massive community-labor actions at the state house, our first stop was the capitol building. [Read more]
National Domestic Workers Alliance
Statement on Texas HB 2012
March 7, 2011
The “carve out” of domestic employers in a recent anti-immigrant bill in Texas affirms an American truth that domestic workers have known all along. HB 2012, A bill introduced by Texas State Representative Debbie Riddle (R-150), would make it a felony (punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 or 180 days in prison) to knowingly hire an immigrant not authorized to work in the United States, except in the case of a person hired to perform household duties such as babysitting, house cleaning, or lawn mowing.
Domestic work – caring for the home, for children, for the elderly, sick and disabled – is important work. Domestic workers are an essential part of households across the country, and help make it possible for their employers to do the work they do. In fact, millions of American families count on domestic workers to meet their basic daily needs. They are integral to the social and economic fabric of this country. [Read more]
March 4, 2001
Community Voices Heard and VOCAL-NY were joined by allies from CAAAV, FUREE, Picture the Homeless, Queers for Economic Justice and Right to the City (NYC Chapter) in holding a protest around New York’s revenue crisis at their state capitol yesterday on March 2nd, 2011. They demanded that Governor Cuomo reverse course, stop the budget cuts, and extend the Millionaire’s Tax. Seventeen people were arrested in an act of civil disobedience in an effort to up the stakes and let people know how serious this is!
The protest further defined the choice facing Governor Cuomo between tax cuts for millionaires and investing in healthcare, education, safety net programs and other public services ordinary New Yorkers rely on. About 150 low-income New Yorkers from the five boroughs, Westchester, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, and Albany rallied while 17 were arrested for blocking entrances on the south side the capitol. Protesters held banners saying “Gov. Cuomo: People Before Wall Street, No Tax Breaks for Millionaires” and “Cuomo Inc: Fighting for Wall Street Bankers & Landlords.” [Read more]
Immediately after the November 2010 election, PLAN and allies realized that the election would mean attacks on already underfunded social services, health care and education. Two weeks after the election, PLAN convened a meeting that brought together allies around two central themes: Protect existing funding for services, education and health care; and Generate new revenue to fund state and local government.
The Nevada Values Coalition, named that day, has grown to include a diverse patchwork of groups, churches and organizations, some 100 in all. Nonetheless, as headlines in Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey and yes, Nevada, attest, the struggle to defend jobs and services is a desperate fight. Nevada’s system of higher education – two universities and a handful of colleges – may declare bankruptcy, allowing for the firing of tenured professors and the elimination of whole degree programs, effectively trashing the work of thousands of students, over many years.
The budget cuts planned by the governor threaten the existence of the region’s largest, and Las Vegas’ only, public hospital and Level One Trauma Center. Nevada’s k-12 system, already profoundly underfunded, would become the worst funded system in the United States. It is difficult to exaggerate the very real tragedies that are already occurring to seniors, to people with disabilities, and to young people in Nevada – and there is no doubt whatsoever that the tragedies will escalate with the cuts being pushed.
Nevada, despite the emaciated character of state and local services, is not a poor state. Some 80 percent of all the gold produced in the United States is mined from Nevada, mostly from publicly owned land. The mining industry, however, pays an effective tax rate on its profits generated from Nevada of less than 1 percent. It is a relic of the Gilded Age, when industrialists ran Nevada, the West and the United States.
PLAN and allies are working to change that anachronistic tax structure. Although the mining industry has more registered lobbyists in the capital than there are state senators, PLAN and friends have engaged the legislature in committee hearings, in one-on-ones, and in grassroots demonstrations. As the demos in Wisconsin are showing, the grassroots can make a huge difference.
But PLAN is also engaging the policymakers in intellectual arguments. One of the instruments that we believe will have a significant impact is a thorough evaluation and report on the state’s existing tax structure – universally agreed to be inadequate and inequitable – along with concrete, workable suggestions to address the situation.
Working with our statewide coalition and with our national allies, in particular our friends from PushBack Network, is an essential part of our work. We are stronger together – and thank you for all your efforts!
Contributed by Launce Rake, Communications Director, PLAN
FRANKFORT – Fourteen protesters emerged from their four-day occupation of the Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear’s office in protest of mountaintop removal mining before an exuberant crowd of over 1,000 people on the steps of the state Capitol.
In a statement delivered before the cheering throng of supporters, internationally-known writer Wendell Berry explained, “We came because the land, its forests, and its streams are being destroyed by the surface mining of coal, because the people are suffering intolerable harms to their homes, their health, and their communities.”
The protesters (who also included a retired coal miner, a nurse practitioner who treats miners, community organizers, a graduate student, and others) had been staying in the office since talks between them and Gov. Beshear came to a stalemate on Friday afternoon, when he finally agreed to meet with them after initially refusing to do so that morning. In the meeting, Gov. Beshear continued to express his steadfast support for both mountaintop removal and the coal industry. The citizens found his position unacceptable, and refused to vacate his office. When they declined to leave, the governor instructed his security team to inform the protesters that they were welcome to stay “as long as they wanted.” The sit-in, which the protesters dubbed Kentucky Rising, has attracted international attention, with messages of support coming in from Argentina and Germany. Leading environmental figures including Bill McKibben (350.org) and best-selling environmental writer Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) issued strong statements of support. “People across America today…are electrified by what’s going on in Frankfort,” McKibben said. ”It’s about time that people said: ‘No more business as usual, if that means leveling the mountains of southern Appalachia.’” The citizens say they will hold Gov. Beshear, who is running for reelection this year, to a pledge he made this morning: to travel to eastern Kentucky within thirty days and personally inspect damage caused by mountaintop removal. “This is only the beginning. There’s no going back at the point. The pressure will continue.”
Kentucky’s action was also the feature of an article on the Huffington Post which you can read here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-biggers/governors-sit-in-day-two_b_822327.html
(This article was copied from the Kentucky Rising blog. You can keep up-to-date on this and other great activities in Kentucky by going to their blog at http://kentuckyrising.blogspot.com/. Also follow KFTC’s blog http://www.kftc.org/blog)
New Flashmob Video Calls For Accountability of State Legislatures, 2011 Congress
The lively, grassroots video was created by the Pushback Network and partner organizations Community Voices Heard, SouthWest Organizing Project and Southwest Workers Union to put pressure on state legislatures and Congress to represent the people’s agenda 365 days of the year—not just on Election Day.
By: Brigid Flaherty, Organizational and Resource Director of Pushback Network
A lively, new political flash mob video hitting the internet today sends a message to newly elected representatives: govern in a manner that best serves the needs of all constituents, including people of color and working people.
In a truly grassroots effort, the video was conceived, produced and staged by community members themselves — people who have been hit hardest by the economic collapse and yet participate in the political process because they see the need for government to create a nation that works for all of us.
Pushback Network and partner organizations Community Voices Heard (CVH), SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP), Southwest Workers Union (SWU) created the video, which is being released through the Pushback Network youtube page (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xQc4ET1QHQ).