West/Southwest IAF Updates
Metro IAF Updates

AMOS Secures $5 Million in New Funding for Longterm Workforce Development in Iowa

At the urging of AMOS leaders, Governor Reynolds is investing $5 million for job training paired with wrap-around services from CARES Act funds.

After hearing stories from Iowans facing the stress of unemployment amidst a shifting economic environment, AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy) began researching how to help workers get back to work in living wage jobs.

"Losing a job is a trauma for workers and their families," said AMOS leader Rev. Dr. Benjamin Bell Jr. "We know that workers need not only training to be able to access higher-wage work, but also support for that trauma, childcare access and assistance to help them complete a training program and be ready to re-enter the workforce."

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IAF, Texas Orgs Raise Alarm on Impact of Executive Order on Undocumented Immigrants

[Excerpts] 

Whenever [TMO leader] Father Carmelo Hernandez makes a live appearance on his church's YouTube channel, he asks the same question each week: "Have you filled out your census form?"

The parishioners of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Houston are largely Hispanic, undocumented or of mixed status, living in one of the most diverse cities in the nation. Hernandez has spent months using his pulpit to demystify the census, disentangle the misinformation and quiet the fears that congregants have about being counted.

But news that President Trump signed a memorandum Tuesday that would exclude many of his parishioners from congressional apportionment is enough to scare them back into invisibility, he said. To them it is proof — against Hernandez's many efforts to the contrary — that the census is a trap and should be avoided.
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Working Together Jackson, Allies, Remove Symbol of Confederacy from State Flag

[Excerpts]

Working Together Jackson interfaith leaders stood on the steps of the Catholic cathedral in downtown Jackson Thursday morning, calling for the immediate removal of the Mississippi state flag.

In a resounding a voice, they said any discussion of what design should replace the current flag must not impede the current goal: Taking down a flag associated with white supremacy.

"Anything is better than what we've got now," said Bishop Ronnie Crudup of New Horizon Church International.

People have been protesting for racial justice in Mississippi and across the nation this month at levels not seen since the civil rights movement more than 50 years ago.

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Michael Gecan: Recovery Will Take More Than Money

The pandemic offers Americans a chance to look hard at the ways in which government has failed society—but also a chance to do something about it.

[Excerpt]

Until the pandemic arrived, I had been spending about four days a month in southern Ohio. It’s a rural area roughly 100 by 100 miles, bounded by the Ohio River on the south, the Indiana line on the west, Chillicothe to the north, and Athens to the west—home to 350,000 residents. For someone like me, Chicago-born and -bred, who has lived and worked in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Washington, and points in between for the past 40 years, driving from town to town and hamlet to hamlet, with appointments often 60 miles apart, was an entirely new experience.

I began this effort because I had long thought that the kind of organizing that my colleagues in the Industrial Areas Foundation and I practiced, begun by Saul Alinsky in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago, had settled into urban and metropolitan areas, but had largely avoided rural communities. This was not a conscious decision or a conscious strategy. It was a drift. But the drift worried me. I kept looking at electoral maps and seeing a sea of red in the center of the country, in Ohio counties like Ross and Scioto and Gallia counties that once had been home to the United Mine Workers union and that had been mixed politically, but that now leaned strongly to the right.

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California IAF Urges Gov. Newsom to Help All Essential Workers, Demanding Justice Not Charity

On Tuesday evening, May 5, over 1,200 California IAF leaders, 10 Bishops and 7 state legislators converged on Zoom and Facebook Live to demand the Governor and legislature provide immediate relief for essential workers left out of state and federal relief. 

"There are millions of California workers who take care of our elders, our children, grow our food, and get it to the stores. Many of them are undocumented, but their work contributes billions of dollars to the California economy," said Rev. Dr. Julie Roberts-Fronk, Co-Chair of the action and a leader with ICON.

Undocumented immigrants represent 10% of the California workforce, pay over $3 billion in state and local taxes and add $180 billion to the economy. They comprise 33% of agricultural workers and 32% of healthcare workers in California, working at great personal risk during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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DIY Disaster Response: NYC & Churches Step Up to Fill Federal Void on Coronavirus Testing

[by NY Daily News Editorial Board]

As New York figures out how to limit the spread of a nasty bug while reopening the economy bit by bit, it’s become bitterly clear we cannot count on the feds to deliver the testing kits and other basics essential in the new normal.

Good for Mayor de Blasio, then, for moving to ramp up Gotham’s own production of personal protective equipment and rapid testing kits.

The city’s manufacturing firms now anticipate they’ll be churning out 465,000 face shields and 100,000 new surgical gowns per week within 10 days.

Perhaps even more important, with global supply chain shortages hobbling states’ ability to run coronavirus tests and Washington missing in action, the city aims to produce 50,000 test kits per week by May.

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Metro IAF Raises Alarm on Protective Equipment Shortages, Calls for Centralized Logistics

[Excerpt]

“We believe the Defense Logistics Agency ― not White House staffers ― is best equipped to take control of critical supplies and move them where they’re needed most,” said Joe Morris, an organizer at the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), a network of religious and labor organizations that has been raising alarms about shortages of protective gear. “That effort needs serious coordination with state and local leadership, without political interference.”

[Photo: Huffington Post footage]

Trump Says Covid-19 Supply is Under Control, He Doesn't Need a CzarHuffington Post


Metro IAF Calls On 3M to Prevent N95 Mask Price Gouging by Distributors

[Excerpt]

Metro IAF, an affiliate of a 75-year-old organizing network, isn’t usually involved in procuring emergency medical gear. The group has a history of working on issues such as jobs, criminal justice, education, and housing. But its focus has changed in recent weeks as clergy in some of the churches that belong to the network began to get desperate reports from their members on the front lines.

“We were all hearing the same story over and over again: We don’t have the equipment we need, we don’t have masks, we don’t have what we need to protect ourselves,” said Rev. David K. Brawley of the St. Paul Community Baptist Church in East Brooklyn. Many of Brawley’s congregants are front-line health care workers — “the folks who work in services within the hospitals, and not just doctors, also the folks who people tend to forget about,” he said. “These are people I deeply care about and love.”  

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Together Louisiana: This Hurricane's Coming For Everyone

Relentless efforts by Together Louisiana resulted first in local media attention and then national media focus on the new storm brewing in New Orleans. 

New Orleans Faces a Virus Nightmare, and Mardi Gras May Be Why, New York Times

New Orleans Has Some of the Highest Coronavirus Infection Rates in the US - Yet It's OverlookedThe Advocate 

Together Louisiana Press Conference (done online)

March 15th Infographic Demonstrating Outbreak in New OrleansTogether Louisiana 

How Early Intervention Can Save LivesTogether Louisiana


West/Southwest IAF Sharpens Focus on COVID-19 Impact on Immigrants

After the Covid-19 pandemic precipitated an economic crisis of historic proportions, the Industrial Areas Foundation launched a campaign calling on Congress to provide direct monthly aid for the duration of the crisis to American workers -- regardless of their citizenship.

While the recently passed $2.2 Trillion emergency stimulus will provide adults a one-time $1,200 check, it is set to leave out undocumented immigrants -- including those who pay taxes using a Tax Identification Number.  IAF organizations across the West / Southwest IAF working with immigrant communities lay out the implications of this decision below:    

[Excerpts below]

Health care is a concern to both undocumented immigrants and legal residents....  Last August, the Trump administration tightened restrictions on legal immigrants who receive government benefits, referred to as 'public charges.' The new policy denies green cards to many immigrants who use Medicaid, food stamps and other benefits.

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