Economic Activism Opportunities

  • #BoycottWendys Until They Join the Fair Food Program via @CIW

    CuaWb1XWAAEUpHd.jpgIf concern for your health isn't usually enough to keep you away from Wendy's then maybe their labor rights abuses are. Right now, there is a farmworker union-led national boycott of the fast food giant and these activists need your support. 

    It turns out Wendy’s is not one of 14 corporate retailers in what is called the “Fair Food Program.” According to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (or CIW) leading the boycott, the Fair Food Program (which they created) is a “unique partnership” between farmworkers, farmers and companies like McDonalds, Taco Bell and Walmart that exists to root out abuse and sexual harassment in agricultural fields from coast to coast. 

    But not only has Wendy’s not joined, they…well, they are kind of being dicks about it. 

    First, they started getting their tomatoes from Mexico to circumvent Fair Foods and avoid scrutiny from US regulators. That means they are now supporting farms where workers confront wage theft, sexual harassment, poor living conditions, child labor and even slavery without any protections.

    Then, adding insult to injury, Wendy’s recently published a “Code of Conduct” for suppliers that leaves out the two major components of the Fair Food Program: worker participation and verifiable enforcement mechanisms for standards. So, it basically amounts to just a bunch of empty, vague promises. 

    You can support this boycott by, you guessed it, not eating at Wendy’s until they join the Fair Food Program…and by visiting allianceforfairfood.org to learn more and sign the Wendy’s Boycott pledge. And of course, you can spread the word via social media using the hashtag #BoycottWendys.

    While you’re at it, consider making worker’s rights and protections part of your theory of change by getting involved in the long term with organizations like Alliance for Fair Food, Farmworker Justice, Fight for 15, Jobs with Justice, Good Jobs Nation and other organizations fighting for worker justice for all.

    So if supporting the efforts of labor unions and all agricultural workers is important to you, then be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about boycotting Wendy’s until they join the Fair Food Program via social media so that others in your network can take action too.

     

     

    TAKE ACTION

    DON'T EAT AT WENDY'S!

    Learn more about the reasons for the boycott at allianceforfairfood.org

    Sign the pledge to boycott Wendy's 

    Attend a "Behind the Braids: Wendy's Boycott Tour" event near you 

    Spread the word on social media via #BoycottWendys

    EDUCATE YOURSELF

    There is a Nationwide Boycott of Wendy's Underway (via The Nation)

    Students Declare Nationwide Boycott of Wendy's Over Farmworker Concerns (via The American Prospect)

    Dear Wendy's: I'm boycotting you, but I'm not the one you should be worried about (via Common Dreams)

     

    Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman.

     

    Hear the activism segment in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1050: "Unions or not, we are still all in this together"

  • Join a Local Democracy @ Work Action Group via @Democracyatwrk

    If you don’t know much about the implementation or inner workings of worker-owned co-ops, it’s not your fault. You can blame our one-track mind economists and capitalist obsessed society for that. But if we are going to demand an alternative solution to capitalism, we need to learn more about the other options and spread the word with those in your community. 

    That is why Democracy At Work, an advocacy organization founded by Richard Wolf - economist and host of the podcast Economic Update - encourages people across the country to start and get involved in Democracy at Work Action Groups in their community.

    Democracy At Work Action Groups are built on the belief that everyday community leaders can influence policy, politics and culture through action and advocacy on the local and national level. To find an Action Group in your area, visit democracyatwork.info/groups to view the map of existing Action Groups across the country. If you don’t see one near you and would like to start one, you can send an email to Democracy At Work’s group organizer at betsy@democracyatwork.com.

    Make fighting for a new economic system part of your theory of change by getting involved with organizations like Democracy At Work, The Next System Project and by reading the publication Truth Out.

    Leading up to the election, we want to give you the resources, knowledge and inspiration to get involved and stay involved beyond November. Because no matter who wins the Presidency, as progressives, we always need to be prepared to fight for what is right…That’s what keeps bending that arc of the moral universe toward justice. 

    So, if creating a new economic system that works for everyone is important to you, then be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about joining Democracy At Work Action Groups via social media so that others in your network can get involved too.

     

     

    TAKE ACTION

    Find or start a Democracy At Work Action Group in your area at http://www.democracyatwork.info/groups

    Follow Democracy At Work on Twitter at @Democracyatwrk 

    EDUCATE YOURSELF 

    Economic Update Podcast

    The Next System Project 

    Truth Out  

    Written by Best of the Left Communications Director, Amanda Hoffman

     

    Hear the clip in the context of Best of the Left Edition #1039: "What worker coops can do for us"

  • Nationwide Next System Teach-Ins via @TheNextSystem

    Silicon Valley companies talk a lot about “disrupting” the market, but side-stepping regulations that protect the public and ignoring basic worker rights doesn’t make a company “revolutionary” or “innovative” - it just hurts everyone. Any common criminal can operate a business in this way and no one would praise them for it. It’s the money they make that blinds us to their deep flaws. 

    But the system we live in is structured to help and reward those who are out to make a buck, while hindering those who value working collectively toward a better future for all. That’s why we need a new system. 

    The Next System Project is an ambitious multi-year initiative aimed at thinking boldly about what is required to deal with the systemic challenges the United States faces now and in the future. Working with a broad group of researchers, theorists and activists, they seek to launch a national debate on the nature of “the next system.” Using the best research, understanding and strategic thinking, on-the-ground organizing and development experience, their goal is to refine and publicize comprehensive alternative political-economic system models - fundamentally different from anything we’ve seen before - that are capable of delivering superior social, economic and ecological outcomes.

    But if you’re thinking “I’m not an economist!” or “I’ll leave that up to the people in charge,” think again. This project is about you, and your thoughts and ideas. That’s why this spring, The Next System Project launched “Next System Teach-Ins” at colleges and universities across the country. These teach-ins aim to engage students, faculty and the local community in a practical, participatory forum for study, debate and organizing around pressing social, political and economic issues.

    The inaugural Teach-ins in Madison, Wisconsin and in New York City (#WhatsNextNYC) took place in early March,  but this April there are Teach-ins scheduled across the country. To find one near you or register to host one where you live, visit teachins.thenextsystem.org.

    So, if fundamentally changing our broken economic, political and social systems is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Next System Teach-Ins via social media so that others in your network can get involved too.

    Look, we can still hate the players, but the bottom line is we have to upend the game. Help create a system that works for us all.

     

    TAKE ACTION:

    Activism Resources: 

    Find a Next System Teach-In near you or register to host one where you live at http://teachins.thenextsystem.org 

    Learn more about the The Next System Project and sign their statement.

    Follow The Next System Project on Twitter @TheNextSystem for the latest updates and use '#NextSystem' to join the conversation.

    Share this video about The Next System Project:

    Further Reading:

    Not Cool Uber (via Dave Craige on Medium.com)

    Sharing Economy Isn’t About Sharing - The Dark Reality Behind This Major Workplace Shift (via Alternet) 

    Uber on the Road to Nowhere - Uber Drivers are getting creative in their fight for basic workplace rights (via American Prospect)  

    Latest News/Actions: 

    Seattle Passes Law Letting Uber, Lyft Drivers Unionize (via Reuters) 

    Fed up Uber Drivers Aim to Disrupt Super Bowl 50 - With their Own Mobile App (via Mother Jones)

    Jakarta Taxi Drivers Protest Against Uber and Grab  (via BBC)

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #1003: http://www.bestoftheleft.com/_1003_capitalism

    Written by BOTL Communications Director Amanda Hoffman 

  • Cancel All #StudentDebt via @thenation & @StrikeDebt — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Cancel All Student Debt.

    In 1994, about half of bachelor’s degree recipients graduated with some debt — usually around $10,000. This year, more than two-thirds graduated in the hole and they averaged $35,000. Americans now owe more than $1.3 trillion total in student loan debt.

    According to an article at Time.com’s typically understated “Money” vertical titled "Why the Student Loan Crisis Is Even Worse Than People Think,” the increased burden is because government grants and support have failed to keep pace with increases in college costs. Despite the government getting a big increase in income tax revenue from college grads, it has fallen down on the job of continuing to make those degrees possible.

    40 million people are now heavily burdened by student loan debt with virtually no way to discharge it. More and more are defaulting as they choose immediate needs over a chipping away at a repayment schedule set to last several decades. 10% of people with excessive debt put off life events such as buying a home or getting married and 20% say that their debt influenced employment plans. Many take jobs outside their field to stay afloat, work unhealthy hours, and take multiple jobs.

    According to the new outlet “Attn,” a third of millennials report that they’d be willing to sell an organ to pay off their student debt. Over half say they’d willingly do a reality show, just under half say that they’d sell half their possessions if that would get them close to paying off loans, and over one-third would “take part in a questionable health study.”

    Perhaps it has gotten absurd enough to get the attention of legislators who seem to leave out debt forgiveness even if they champion free college going forward. A new campaign spearheaded by The Nation with partners Daily Kos, Working Families, the American Federation of Teachers and others is calling for an end to the crisis.

    At CancelAllStudentDebt.com, you can sign on to the demand that our legislators act now and then share it on social media, tagging your representatives and the White House. Addressed to President Obama as well as Congress, the letter simply states:

    "Americans now owe $1.3 trillion in student debt. Eighty-six percent of that money is owed to the United States government. This is a crushing burden for more than 40 million Americans and their families. I urge you to take immediate action to forgive all student debt, public and private.”

    As the Nation Action page says, this is a problem for more than just students. When people live paycheck-to-paycheck for decades just to pay the interest on loans they can’t discharge, they are unable to buy items even those of us who are anti-capitalism begrudgingly say most of us need. They also can’t pursue “public good” type jobs because a teacher or social worker will never make enough to pay off $30,000 in loans; we’re losing talent at a dangerous pace.

    The good news is that Strike Debt has put together an amazingly simple proposal to reallocate money and make public higher education free for all — for the paltry sum of $15 billion per year. That’s 0.39% of the federal budget; certainly an economic stimulus and an investment in our future is worth that much.

    Let’s not wait for a new White House occupant to push this simple, important plan. The full House is up for election as always and 34 states have elections for Senate, so now is the time to let them know you demand action and will hold them accountable in November.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN: Cancel All Student Debt via The Nation & coalition

    READ & Share: "How far to free?”StrikeDebt’s plan for tuition-free college

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Help if you are or are about to be behind/defaulting: Student Loan Borrowers Assistance — "Find a Solution” via National Consumer Law Center

    Sources/further reading:

    "Why the Student Loan Crisis Is Even Worse Than People Think” via Time.com/Money

    "Student Debt Is Worse Than You Think” via The New York Times

    "5 Extreme Ways to Get Rid of Your Student Loan Debt” via Attn:

    "We Need to End the Student Loan Debt Crisis: To draw attention to the magnitude of the student debt crisis, we’re doing something dramatic.” via The Nation & coalition

    Graphic via: BorderlessNewsAndViews.com

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #989 "Investments in education should not earn cash profits"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Narrowing the Racial Wealth Gap w/@AECFNews (Annie E. Casey Fdn) — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Narrowing the Racial Wealth Gap.

    Last week, the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent reported on their tour of Washington D.C., Baltimore, Jackson, MS., Chicago and New York City. They determined what people of color and social justice advocates already know: African Americans continue to face inequality, barriers to education and health care, and death at the hands of the state.

    Common Dreams reported that the five-member working group says they are "extremely concerned about the human rights situation of African Americans” and determined that they deserve reparatory justice.

    The human rights advocate leading the working group is quoted as saying:

    "Despite substantial changes since the end of the enforcement of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, ideology ensuring the domination of one group over another continues to negatively impact the civil, political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights of African Americans today.”

    Obviously, there’s no easy policy fix, law, or organizational plan that can move us in the right direction by itself. But a new plan out from The Annie E. Casey Foundation reported on at Colorlines looks like a great place to start. “Investing in Tomorrow: Helping Families Build Savings and Assets” seeks to close the gap between median net worth for white households and households of color; currently, white households have more than ten times the assets of their black and latino peers at 47% of adults do not have enough savings to cover a $400 emergency, leaving them constantly vulnerable.

    At AECF.org, the Annie E. Casey Foundation provides ways to get involved with helping those in your community who need access to helpful services, advocate with your state-level legislators on implementing these policies, and — of course — share the well-designed graphics and information on social media to raise awareness and put pressure on candidates and legislators.

    The four recommendations of the “Investing in Tomorrow” initiative are:

    • Raise asset limits for public benefit programs
    • Provide portable, safe accounts for retirement and emergency savings
    • Expand access to home ownership
    • Create savings accounts that help build wealth from birth

    The top one — raising the asset limits for public benefit programs — is a great action item to raise with candidates and legislators because it doesn’t require new infrastructure and has very simple talking points. As Best of the Left social media/activism director Katie Klabusich found out the hard way last year, people utilizing public programs like food stamps are penalized if they own literally anything — a car, a house, a computer — and they’re expected to drain any savings and cash on hand they might have before qualifying. Since writing about her experience, she’s heard from people all over the country who ended up in a poverty cycle because they could never set anything aside to change their longterm circumstances without forfeiting eligibility to programs that are supposedly to help people get on their feet.

    We've created the cycle of dependence that the right-wing rails about — not because assistance makes people lazy, but because we don't allow people to rebuild. Allowing people who experience losses like job layoffs to get assistance without having to move and sell assets that are more expensive to replace than keep as well as reducing the barriers to initially qualifying would go a long way to making our safety net safe and empowering people — especially those who face systemic discrimination and injustice.

    Click on the orange “Investing in Tomorrow” tab at ACEF.org to get involved in your state and use OpenStates.org to find and contact your state reps about implementing some or all of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s policy recommendations.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Get Involved with the Annie E. Casey Foundation: Who We Help: Communities

    Contact your legislators through OpenStates.org about: ”Investing in Tomorrow”

    Sources/further reading:

    "Could These Four Policy Changes Close the Racial Wealth Gap?” at Colorlines.org

    "UN Experts Catalog Seemingly Endless List of Racial Discrimination in US” at CommonDreams

    "The U.S. Supreme Court Barely Saves the Fair Housing Act” at The Atlantic

    "Ending the Cycle of Racial Isolation” at The New York Times

    "Obama administration to unveil major new rules targeting segregation across U.S.” via The White House

    "In Fair Housing Act Case, Supreme Court Backs 'Disparate Impact’ Claims”

    “Segregation Now: Investigating America’s Racial Divide” at ProPublica

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #987 "The double helix of racial and economic inequality"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Opposing the TPP On #Climate Grounds via @IATP, @Public_Citizen & @ExposeTheTPP - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached today’s activism segment. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s a reminder that certain awful things don’t go away quickly, so we have to stay vigilant and keep fighting them until we succeed. Today’s update: Opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Climate Grounds.

    While the UN Climate Change Conference continues in Paris this week, we have the opportunity to do some intersectional activism. Trade, labor, climate, health — all these things are always connected; let’s use the spotlight on Paris to remind our legislators how true that is.

    The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy put out their analysis on the TPP and have bullet-pointed three ways it would hurt the climate:

    1 — It expands the rights of corporations to challenge regulations.

    2 — It drives natural gas exports and production.

    3 — Limiting support for local, renewable energy systems.

    Using Public Citizen's action link “Stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership” at Citizen.org, you’ll use your ZIP code to address the auto-fill letter to the correct legislators. Take the time to add “for the climate” to the “Vote no on the TPP” subject line” and include a personal comment in the body of the letter about why you’re against the faux trade deal.

    Don’t forget to post about sending the letter on social media using the #StopTPP hashtag as well as the one being used internationally for the Paris climate talks, #COP21. You can find your legislators’ handles and Facebook pages at ContactingTheCongress.org; and, as always, if you’re feeling motivated, you can get their direct phone line there as well to leave a message saying you’re a constituent who opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    For those who enjoy a good social media campaign, you can also visit ExposeTheTPP.org to add your palm pic to the collection with the reason you oppose the trade deal written across your hand and posed in the fingers-out “Stop” sign.

    Update!

    The TPP is bad for the climate! via "3 Ways the TPP Will Hurt the Climate—If We Let It Pass” at The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

    Follow-up/new Action!

    CONTACT: your legislators about TPP with climate-specific concerns. via Public Citizen

    SHOW why you oppose the TPP on social media via Expose The TPP

    Sources/further reading:

    FOLLOW: #COP21 for updates on the Paris Climate Negotiations

    "It’s Never Been about Trade” via The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #974 "The Trans Pacific Partnership revealed (Corporate Takeover)"

    Revisit the original action/segment: "Stop Fast Track of TransPacific Partnership via @MoveOn” — 02/06/2015

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Stop Fast Track of TransPacific Partnership via @MoveOn — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached today’s activism segment. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s a reminder that certain awful things don’t go away quickly, so we have to stay vigilant and keep fighting them until we succeed. Today’s update: Stop the Fast Track of the Trans Pacific Partnership.

    It appears there is something the president and the GOP-lead Congress can agree is a good idea: ceding our nation’s economic autonomy to an international corporate conglomerate in a trade deal that has been repeatedly called “NAFTA on steroids.”

    As Lori Wallach reported in The Nation back when the TPP first got press almost three years ago, the agreement is essentially an assault on democracy.

    Wallach wrote:

    "Countries would be obliged to conform all their domestic laws and regulations to the TPP’s rules—in effect, a corporate coup d’état. The proposed pact would limit even how governments can spend their tax dollars.”

    The Obama administration has asked Congress to “Fast Track” legislation to approve the trade deal. Fast track authority accelerates the process by which a bill becomes law by preventing amendments and only requiring a majority vote in the senate, rather than the now typical supermajority. Most of the Congressional Democratic Caucus is opposed to Fast Track for the TPP, but there may not be enough republican opposition to prevent it from happening without public outcry — which is going to be hard to drum up because trade deals are BORING.

    Super important and super boring. As our friend Lee Camp says: “boring evil is The Worst.” It’s terrifyingly easy to get things past a busy, struggling or apathetic public when words like “trade deals” and “tax policy” and …. There, see? I’ve lost you.

    The Communication Workers of America are making it easy to care and easy to act. Their petition at MoveOn.org simply says: "Tell Congress: We Can't Afford to Outsource More Jobs.” You can find it at the MoveOn homepage, then just click and sign to tell your representatives you expect them to vote no on Fast Track authority.

    The CWA is also phone banking to let legislators know they oppose thoughtlessly approving a corporate power grab that would eliminate their jobs. If you want to join them, simply dial 855-980-2256 and enter your zip code when prompted. You will be connected to your rep’s staffer to whom you simply say:

    "I'm a constituent and I've had enough of bad trade deals negotiated in secret like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Congress needs to read the deal and not vote to Fast Track it before even knowing what's in it. I urge you to vote no on Fast Track authority for the TPP.”

    Simple. Direct. And, yes, legislators do still keep a record of calls on issues and House members are pretty much already running again and need to listen when you call.

    Opposing Fast Track won’t stop the TPP from eventually becoming law. It will, however, make the process public and lengthier and give less engaged citizens an opportunity to hear about the deal and weigh in. As part of the highly engaged and involved group within the citizenry, it’s basically on us to run around sounding the alarm. Visit MoveOn.org, sign, and then share the petition.

    Update!

    Obama administration asks for fast tracking of TPP: "Democrats oppose Obama's demand for fast-tracking Pacific trade deal” by Siri Srinivas at The Guardian

    Follow-up/new Action!

    SIGN: Tell Congress: We Can't Afford to Outsource More Jobs via MoveOn.org and the CWA

    Sources/further reading:

    ”Tell Your Congress Member: No Fast Track For the TPP!” via the Communications Workers of America

    "NAFTA on Steroids: The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would grant enormous new powers to corporations, is a massive assault on democracy” by Lori Wallach at The Nation

    "The Top Secret Deal Between 11 Countries That Will Affect Your Life" - MOC #186Lee Camp

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #896 "Resisting global corporate takeover (Trans-Pacific Partnership)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich