Issues - Unions and Democracy

Unions do far more than negotiate benefits for its own workers. Unions have fought to strengthen public policies that benefit all Americans, both unionized and non-unionized. And as corporate power and influence has skyrocketed in recent years, unions have provided a powerful mechanism for voter turnout that keeps our democracy strong.

Historically, unions have fought to strengthen public policies that benefit all Americans, both unionized and non-unionized. Unions have fought to strengthen minimum wage laws, worker safety protections, and public safety nets. We have unions to thank for the two-day weekend and the 40-hour workweek. More recently, unions have fought to strengthen minimum wage laws, worker safety protections, and public safety nets. Continue...

Student Immigrants Fight Hateful Legislation in Massachusetts

June 24, 2011 — Maz
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The Massachusetts Student Immigrant Movement (SIM) have launched MassHope 2011, a round-the-clock vigil on the steps of the Massachusetts State House to prevent the passage of anti-immigrant amendments in the state's budget.

Last year, SIM staged a 19-day vigil to prevent similar measures from passing, and they succeeded. They recognized that the victory was only made possible by a highly engaged community of human rights supporters, which included immigrants and U.S. citizens.

Despite popular support for SIM's — and other immigrant rights groups' — cause in Massachusetts, a relentlessly dismissive Republican contingent is hell-bent on advancing this inherently hateful legislation.

Interview with a Popular Educator: Ty dePass (2 of 2)

June 17, 2011 — Maz
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Q: Ty, would you share with us a specific instance in which you witnessed the effectiveness of popular education?

The D7 RoundTable was a community-based organization focused on the struggles against racism, violence, and poverty in Greater Roxbury – Boston’s poorest, brownest, most culturally-diverse, and politically-marginalized neighborhood. For eight years, from 2000 to 2008, D7 convened a monthly grassroots public policy forum, bringing residents of Roxbury and Boston's other progressive communities together to examine, debate, and exchange opinions on a host of critical issues and public institutions.

In the spring of 2001, Boston’s public schools were being criticized for an evident “achievement gap,” as reflected in the scores of mandatory standardized tests. D7 dedicated one of its regular monthly forums to exploring the issue – specifically, the factors contributing to the “gap” in student test performance.

The nearly one hundred community members who attended the forum were seated at tables of with 8 to 9 of their neighbors. On each table was an information packet providing a detailed profile of a selected area school district or local high school.

The popular education exercise was divided into three rounds. In round one, participants were tasked with becoming “experts” on their data packets...

The Bush Tax Cuts Ten Year Hangover

June 7, 2011 — Maz
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Ten years ago, the great con known as the Bush tax cuts was signed into law.

We were told that the budget surplus left by the Clinton administration would be better off in the hands of the taxpayers. Those tax breaks were to stimulate the economy, create jobs and lead us all to the American Dream.

Of course, the story of the past decade has been much different:

The lion's share of the tax breaks were stuffed into the pockets of a small percentage of taxpayers. The top 10 percent of earners received 55 percent of the tax benefits; the top 1 percent alone grabbed 38 percent. And, at the tip top of the income scale, the top .01 percent of households snatched an average cut of $520,000, or 450 times the average break for a middle-income family.

The current unemployment rate of 9.1 percent is more than double the rate in the same month a decade ago. In more human terms, 13.7 million people are currently looking for work but can't find a job. But those figures are upwards of 76 percent higher if we include the under-employed and folks discouraged by a still-thin job market.

As for the American dream of white picket fences and a home to call your own, overall home foreclosures were two-and-a-half times above the 2001 rate by the end of 2010. Today, roughly 3.7 million homes are in danger of foreclosure.

Three Books About the Causes & Consequences of Inequality

May 16, 2011 — Brian Miller
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If you’re looking for a great book to deepen your thinking about the causes and consequences of inequality, here are three of my favorite reads of the last few months.

Fighting Bad Budgets with Horse and Buggy

May 10, 2011 — Shannon M.
NC back in tyme budget players

The daunting budget deficits facing states across the U.S. are no joke. But members of the Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative are responding with innovative advocacy, using creativity in the face of potentially devastating slash-and-burn proposals.