“I have a philosophy: When others say no, I say yes.” Expressed by Shirley Pryce, this statement could not be more accurate.
Shirley finishes her internship at United for a Fair Economy this week. As sad as we are to see her go, she has promised to be a “UFE Ambassador,” taking all she has learned back home to Jamaica.
For over 30 years, Shirley was a domestic worker in Jamaica. She was badly abused. There was nowhere to go to protest, except for the Ministry of Labor, where the large number of cases made filing a complaint unproductive. She needed help.
After attending a workshop for domestic workers, she was motivated, along with other participants, to form the Jamaica Household Workers’ Association. She wanted to advocate for people in her situation; “I don’t want another domestic worker to go through that.” Shirley is currently the fifth President of the organization, vigorously leading the fight for the rights of domestic workers.
When Shirley became president, membership was extremely low, and the organization was told to close down. Shirley took it upon herself to recruit members. She knew where to go. Early in the morning and late at night, she went to bus stops to invite domestic workers to become part of the organization, as well as leaving flyers in letterboxes and ATM machines. Her strategies worked. Doubtful as many people were, her organization became a union in 2013, and is now powerful and respected. Shirley’s attitude toward their negativity: “If you say it can’t happen, I’m going to do it.”
Now, Shirley is getting her Master’s degree in Global Workers’ Rights at Penn State University. She is the only organizer in the program, gladly representing domestic workers around the world. At first, Shirley resisted doing her internship at UFE, hoping instead to work with a union. Now, she raves about her experience here.
Shirley took part in UFE’s Popular Economics Training in May. She explains that popular education is special. Trainings are typically top-down, but UFE’s model works to change things from the bottom up. It is interactive, realistic, and understandable. That, she says, is powerful.
“It pains my heart to leave UFE,” Shirley said, “a small organization with a big vision.” But she is going back home to put what she has learned into practice. She aims to spread UFE’s work, “not only in Jamaica, not only in the Caribbean, but across the world, to show people it’s a different way of doing your training.”
Shirley’s next step is to set up a Domestic Workers’ Training Institute in Jamaica. Most domestic workers do not have the resources to train themselves, and this school will be designed to fit their needs and schedule. This training is crucial to the empowerment and respect Shirley works to achieve.
Shirley is also a founding member of the Caribbean Domestic Workers’ Network and the International Domestic Workers’ Federation. All over the Caribbean, she is lobbying for governments to adopt the Domestic Worker Convention, which she was instrumental in passing 4 years ago in Geneva.
“We are all doing the same thing: fighting for domestic workers’ rights, fighting for empowerment of domestic workers, fighting to get the convention ratified, fighting for respect. That’s what we do. Daily. Hourly. Minutely. My life is fighting for workers’ rights.”
As an economic justice organization we recognize that language is power. The language of economics is used to distort, deceive and distract when people are suffering from things like poverty wages or unemployment. A big part of popular economics education involves breaking through the jargon so we are not fooled by the language of so-called experts. At United for a Fair Economy, language justice is integrally tied to our work.
It continues today and it is these dynamics of power that language justice seeks to address. In their Language Justice Statement, Wayside Center for Popular Education explains:
“Language is power. Language can determine whether a person or a community has access to—or is shut out from—decision-making processes and persons, resources, information, and services…The goal of language justice work is relatively straightforward: language access as the great equalizer. It promotes autonomy and self-determination by making sure that everyone’s voice is heard and that all of the transmitted information is relayed…It teaches that interpretation is not in the service of the non-English speakers but rather for everyone that does not share a common language.”
The emerging field of social justice language work goes by many names in English: language justice, multilingual capacity building, language access, language work, social justice interpreting, multilingual justice, etc. Whatever you call it, the central idea uniting all of this work is a power analysis around language as something that can exclude, include, or transform. Historically, English language dominance is an axis of power in U.S. society (for example, the language of economics can be used to maintain or deepen wealth inequality), but we have the power to change this from the grassroots.
That's why we're excited to present a workshop titled "Multilingual Justice: Beyond Translation" at this year's Netroots Nation conference. This is one of the largest gatherings of progressive people and organizations in the country. On Friday Morning our Executive Director Jeannette Huezo, and our friend Tony Macias will be presenting on this important topic. All information about our presentation can be found here. We hope to see you there!
We at United for a Fair Economy would like to send our deepest condolences to the families of those killed in South Carolina. We are saddened not only by this act of terrorism and hate, but by the system that enables such violence to take place. This is not an isolated act, but a continuation of a long history of violence carried against black people.
The same system that has tragically ended so many black lives is the system that produces economic inequality. In a funeral service following the bombing of a Birmingham church in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. said, "[the victims] say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life and the philosophy which produced the murders." Today, for every dollar of wealth held by white families, the average black family holds only six cents. The one-percent owns 40% of the wealth in this country the poorest 90% shares only 23% of the wealth. While so many families are struggling for their very survival the one-percent are making record profits. These systems, of state-sponsored violence and economic inequality, are one in the same. We cannot address one without the other.
We believe strongly in the power of social movements fighting against racism, inequality and oppression. The organizers and activists leading the #blacklivesmatter movement and service and fast food workers fighting for $15 dollars and the right to join a union, black people and their allies, both non-black people of color and white people, are taking action against our country's long history of violence and exploitation. May there be justice for families in Charleston who have lost their loved ones and may those of us fighting for justice strengthen our resolve and take bold action in the struggle against racism and oppression.
Today the Office of the Inspector General for the Post Office is releasing their recommendations and opinions on Postal Banking and AFS as a follow up to their paper in 2014. We are excited to read the report, and to be a part of the conversation on how the Post Office can be a positive vehicle for enveloping the unbanked into the financial system.
This year's State of the Dream Report, Underbanked and Overcharged, found that people of color and the working poor are being taken advantage of to the tune of $103 Billion per year. That report can be found here.
At United for a Fair Economy, we think this is a unique opportunity to engage in a conversation about the vision for what a Fair Economy is, and how a return to Postal Banking could be a positive step toward that vision we all share.
Please join us, and the rest of the Campaign for Postal Banking to push for a bold solution to this serious problem. Let’s create a system that works for all, no matter what your account balance is.
An interesting report came across our desk today. Here are some key findings:
- The United States has the best infrastructure and transit in the world;
- We are protecting our environment and living in a completely sustainable way that ensures future generations can enjoy our planet;
- We’ve surpassed every other nation on earth in elementary reading and math scores;
- and perhaps most shocking, social mobility is higher than ever!
In short, this report found that public investment has allowed our nation to thrive and be an engine for social mobility. Anybody that works hard can share in this unprecedented prosperity!
Of course we all know none of this is true. We don’t have the best infrastructure or education the world. We don’t hold polluters accountable and social mobility is not possible for many. But we should never forget that it is possible.
Today is tax day, and hopefully you’ve already filed your taxes. Our taxes provide the money for public investments that pave the way for shared prosperity. The problem is that the wealthiest people in the nation–the very people that have prospered by public investment–pay less of their income on taxes than we do.
We believe that fair taxation, of both income and wealth, is a cornerstone in a prosperous and fair economy. We work with state-based groups that are fighting the culture of austerity, disinvestment, and privatization every day. That's why today UFE and our partners at Voices for Progress are sending a letter from families in the top 5% in wealth in the US, urging congress to raise their taxes. We know that the only way to shared prosperity is through fair policies.
You’re a critical part of this work. And together, we need to hold accountable those individuals and businesses that have benefited from the investments that all of us have made and not contributed back.
Today we’re asking for you to invest in this shared prosperity. Your donation helps us fight the culture of disinvestment and neglect that austerity and unfair tax policies promote.
With mixed feelings, we announce that a wise and humble member of the United for a Fair Economy family is moving along. After fourteen years as a facilitator, popular educator and mentor to many, Steve Schnapp is retiring. As sad as we are to see him go, we are really excited to throw a party for him! (One he insisted we not have. Ha!)
Join us at Spontaneous Celebrations, 45 Danforth Street in Jamaica Plain, MA on
Thursday, April 23rd from 7:00pm-10:00pm
to celebrate the retirement of long-time UFE educator-extraordinaire Steve Schnapp!
Those of you who know Steve will not be surprised to hear that we use the term “retire” loosely. Someone as dedicated to his work, and above all, the principles of economic and racial justice, will not be easily pulled from the movement. Steve will continue to show up for justice, and at UFE we’re going draw on his wisdom for a while longer. This does mean, though, that he’ll be spending much more time with his granddaughters, Grey and Zuzu, his wife Honey, and his two daughters, Tania and Jessie. And we couldn’t be happier for him.
Please join United for a Fair Economy on Thursday, April 23rd to celebrate Steve Schnapp and a life of humble contributions in support of the movement for social and economic justice.
There will be hors d'oeuvres, drinks, dancing and good company -- what more could you want?!
Can’t make the party? Consider Making a donation to the United for a Fair Economy Education Team in Steve’s honor. Your donation will enable UFE to continue to provide our unique brand of Popular Economics Education for organizers working on the front lines for social and economic justice. And by the way, we’re holding an open Training of Trainers right here in our own back yard at the Walker Center on May 28-31.
For more information, please contact Riahl O’Malley, National Education Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 617.423.2148 ext. 127.
UFE's Training of Trainers Institute involves exploring the causes and consequences of income and wealth inequality and providing participants with educational tools to help inform their communities and inspire political action.
Transformative education—which includes reflection, thoughtful analysis, and learning from each other—is vital to the success of any movement for social and economic justice. In order to challenge the economic status quo, we first need to make sense of the roots of inequality and, more broadly, the ways in which systems create and perpetuate class, race, and gender inequality. Working toward a shared understanding of how we got here and a shared vision for the future will help us build a cross-race, cross-class movement for an equitable, democratic, and sustainable economy.
Our Popular Economics Education Team is once again offering UFE's renowned Training of Trainers Institute May 28-31, 2015 in Auburndale, MA at the Walker Conference Center (details below). We invite organizers, activists, educators, students, and others across the U.S. who want to join and advance the movement for a just economy, to attend.
Jeannette Huezo, Steve Schnapp, and Riahl O'Malley, will help you learn how to engage people in dialogue through UFE-style popular economics education workshops that demystify the economy and creatively educate, inspire, and mobilize people to take political action.
Thursday, May 28 – Sunday, May 31, 2015
On-site check-in from 3:00–6:00 p.m. on Thursday May 28;
The Institute ends at 1:30 p.m. on May 31.
The Walker Center in Auburndale, MA (30 minutes from Boston’s Logan Airport and accessible by public transportation)
About the Institute
Watch this video from one of our previous Training of Trainers.
- An organizer, leader, activist, teacher, or trainer engaged in campaigns for economic or social justice, and/or
- If you are seeking to improve your training and facilitation skills in order to more effectively present information and engage people in dialogue about the economy.
YOU WILL LEARN ABOUT:
- National economic trends and the rules, policies, and structures that make the economy a disaster for most of us and a goldmine for a few
- Viewing the economy through race and gender lenses;
- Some history about popular resistance to economic inequality in the U.S.;
- Strategies to build a powerful social movement that will address the economic divides; and Principles and practices of popular education.
YOU WILL HAVE OPPORTUNITIES TO:
- Work in small groups to plan and practice leading either UFE's or original popular economics education workshop activities;
- Receive constructive feedback on how to effectively present workshops and lead productive discussions on economic inequality;
- Discuss how to best adapt UFE's materials to your communities and constituents;
- Practice responding to challenging questions and difficult workshop situations; and
- Network, build solidarity and open doors for collaboration with others working for economic justice.
THE PROGRAM INCLUDES PRESENTATIONS OF CREATIVE AND ENGAGING ACTIVITIES FROM UFE'S WORKSHOPS, INCLUDING:
- The Growing Divide - The Roots of Economic Security
- Closing the Racial Wealth Divide
- Immigration and the Growing Divide
- To register click here. Application due April 17th
- After we have received your registration your participation will be confirmed no later than April 30th. We recommend singing up early so you can secure your own flight at a reasonable price
- Participants should arrive at the Walker Center on Thursday, May 28, between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m.; the program begins after dinner on Thursday and concludes after lunch on Sunday, May 31.
- Sessions are conducted in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings.
- Breaks are provided throughout the day to allow participants to catch their breath, reflect on and network with other participants.
Registration fee is based on a sliding scale based on whether you are attending as an invididual, or with the support of an organization. Cost includes the institute fee, materials, meals, and room/board (double occupancy). Transportation is NOT included. A minimum $25 deposit is required upon admission into the training. Payment in full is due one week before the start of the Institute. We offer additional reductions to organizations sending two or more participants.
Space is limited and preference is given to applicants who are able to attend the full Institute. Some materials, including a detailed agenda for the Institute, short readings, and logistical information, will be sent to all registrants prior to the training to help participants prepare for the Institute.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Contact Riahl O'Malley via email (email@example.com) or phone at 827-277-7868 x127.
In the State of the Union address, President Obama called for strengthening tax benefits for middle class and low-income working families, and for investing more in child care, early education, and higher education, including making the first two years of community college free. 99 percent of the impact of the President’s tax reform proposal would be on the top 1 percent, and more than 80 percent would come from the top 0.1 percent (those with incomes over $2 million). Responsible Wealth is gathering signatures in support of the President's plan.
This Martin Luther King, Jr. day, UFE is excited to release it's annual State of the Dream Report, titled "Underbanked and Overcharged." This report finds that access to banks in communities of color cost each unbanked household $3,029 per year, taking $103 billion out of the communities that need it most.