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.
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.Read more
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.Read more
[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.
“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 Czar, Huffington Post
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.”Read more
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
Together Louisiana Press Conference (done online)
March 15th Infographic Demonstrating Outbreak in New Orleans, Together Louisiana
How Early Intervention Can Save Lives, Together Louisiana
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:
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.Read more
GBIO Leaders and Coalition Partners Carry a “Check” to the State House for the money saved by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, totaling $71 million per year.
The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO), along with partners in the Massachusetts Prescription Drug Affordability Coalition, scored its first win in its 2019-2020 health care legislative campaign. Language passed as part of the 2020 budget gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services the power to develop a proposed value of a drug as well as have a public hearing if MassHealth (Massachusetts’ Medicaid agency) cannot agree with the drug manufacturer on a fair price. Using this negotiating leverage will lower the state’s prescription drug costs, which have doubled over the last five years. This will save the State of MA $71 Million per year in the annual MassHealth budget.
To make their voices heard, GBIO members gathered alongside members of coalition partner organizations at a Health Care Action Day at the State House. Leaders met with legislators and staff, demanding the strongest legislation possible to fight back against the doubling of prescription drug costs for MassHealth over the last five years.Read more
On September 19, the judge supervising Metro IAF NY’s mold focused federal court consent decree with NYCHA agreed to appoint our choice of an Ombudsperson, Cesar De Castro. Mr. De Castro will have the power to force NYCHA to properly fix mold and leaks hire independent contractors at NYCHA’s expense when they fail to do so. This will begin in the Jefferson Houses in East Harlem and rolling out citywide as soon as possible. Tenants will finally have an ally with court backed authority who can hold NYCHA accountable.
This came from years of work by Metro IAF’s public housing leaders to highlight the fact that most tenants still have seen no real improvement in mold remediation and the push for change. Most recently, on 9/13/19, we held a press conference with Council Member Ritchie Torres outside of the Federal Courthouse where we called for the appointment of the ombudsman and for NYCHA to immediately spend the $50 million in ventilation repair funds that we pushed them to allocate.Read more
Over 600 Durham CAN leaders packed the sanctuary of Monument of Faith Church to declare Durham a living wage city. CAN leaders demanded and won impressive commitments on living wages, ban-the-box, local hiring, and job training.
The Chair of the Durham Housing Authority committed to ensure all jobs required to renovate its properties, a $566 million project, will go up from $12.69 to $15/hour within the next two years. All contractors will also be required to pay at least $15 per hour. The priority will be to hire its own residents. Mayor Steve Schewel promised to ensure all jobs generated under his $95 million bond referendum proposal and the Beltline Project will pay at least $15. The Mayor promised the city will work with Durham Technical Community College to ensure the training and hiring of local workers. Leaders from Go Triangle ratified their commitment to pay $15 for most of their jobs.Read more