September 15, 2015

August 2015 Newsletter

August was a great month for ACTION United, with a variety of different victories not only across the PA, but the U.S.

Philadelphia

Our Trip to Wyoming to talk to the Federal Reserve – #WhatRecovery

IMG_2086The Federal Reserve controls the monetary policies of the United States, affecting interest rates and wages for everyone in this country. On August 27th, ACTION United alongside the Center for Popular Democracy headed to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to talk to the Federal Reserve and put forth the demands of the community.

Here are the hard facts. While economists tout that our economy is getting stronger month after month, income inequality and disparity remains at an all time high. According to Emmanuel Saez, an economics professor at UC-Berkeley the top 10% of earners make over 50% of the pre-tax income in the United States. So while the pockets of investment bankers fill up, the middle class is being squeezed out of the equation. Regular people in the community are being left behind, either underemployed or unemployed with no avenue for success. For many, the idea of the American Dream has become just that–nothing but a dream.

Here’s what they don’t get. We aren’t numbers and we aren’t statistics. We are the people, we are the community and we are the individuals that built this country. When financial advisers look at the numbers and say we are recovering from a recession, they aren’t seeing the families suffering from poverty in this country and they are ignoring an entire population of people–the people who made this country great.

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel prize-winning economist and professor of economics at Columbia University, left, speaks during a protest held by the Fed Up Coalition during the Jackson Hole economic symposium, sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, at the Jackson Lake Lodge in Moran, Wyoming, U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. The symposium gathers central bankers, finance ministers, academics, and market participants to discuss the theme of "Inflation Dynamics and Monetary Policy". Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

At Jackson Hole we held workshops with top financial experts who agreed with us. Interests rates need to stay low, wages need to rise, and through this we can create sustainable, decent, middle class jobs for people in this country. Whether it is Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz or a low income member of ACTION United, we all see the problem clearly. The rich keep getting rich off of the back of the 99%, and the rest of us are left to suffer with poverty wages and underemployment.

There, we also spoke with Patrick Harker, Philadelphia Fed President, and demanded that he come see the conditions of our neighborhoods and listen to our demands. He has agreed and promised to listen to the true voices of Philadelphia. Once he takes a tour with us through our neighborhoods and gets to meet the people there, he will see the real condition of this “recovery.”

Watch this video of Kendra Brooks from ACTION United talk to Patrick Harker:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTH53tvLSDs&feature=youtu.be

Watch this video of Eric Green talk about his trip to Jackson Hole:

For more information on the visit to the Federal Reserve, read this Washington Post Article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/08/27/the-federal-reserve-and-the-fed-up-campaign/

For more information on the FED UP/WhatRecovery Campaign, visit WhatRecovery.org

Leadership Academy

volunteerOur leadership Academy started earlier this month, with ACTION United members attending to gain the skills in order to start a movement in their communities. We are all about empowerment here, and the first step in empowering people is providing them with the education they need in order to succeed. With our years of political and social organization experience, our Leadership Academy gives our members a robust curriculum that teaches them how to use their skills in order to make real change happen in their neighborhood.

The course runs over a two month period, giving members the ability to work with our main office in order to start a chapter of their own.

Registration for the class is officially closed, but if you are interested in future classes, please contact jford@actionunited.org.

To learn more about the Leadership Academy, including specific subjects of study, visit our website here: http://actionunited.org/community-building/leadership-academy/

PA Budget Impasse

Rotunda Steps2redoneACTION United is still working to get the PA Budget passed so that our schools don’t have to shut down mid semester and our children get the funding to the district that they deserve and need. In August, ACTION United delivered our demands and a Fair Funding Formula to our State Capitol in Harrisburg.

Right now, conservative extremists are holding the PA Budget hostage, regardless of the harm that it’s doing to public and human services and our schools. Harrisburg itself has felt the repercussions, and many pre-K education centers across the state have had to implement contingency plans while state funds are still on hold. One Pre-K School in Harrisburg has already had to borrow $100,000 from private lenders as they wait for state funds to finally come through.

This is a major issue that affects every citizen in PA and hits our children the hardest.

For more information on how the PA Budget Impasse is impacting schools, click here.

To learn more about our community schools initiative, visit our site here.

Pittsburgh

Save Penn Plaza

penn_plaza_rallyLast month, we reported on Penn Plaza residents being forced out of their homes with no other similar cost alternatives. As a quick recap, Penn Plaza owners, the Gumberg family, handed out 90 day eviction notices to nearly 500 people living in Penn Plaza without giving any alternatives to affordable housing.

We sat down with the Mayor and other city officials who made the Gumbergs extend the evictions another 2 months. On the 24th, ACTION United members again made a stand in front of City-County Building to bring attention to the unfair practice of putting profit over our kids and families. Since our action, the eviction notices have been totally taken off the table, showing that through organizing, we can effect real change. It’s not to say that this saga is over though. While the evictions have been taken off the table for now, only time will tell whether residents will be able to keep their homes.

Currently the city and the Gumbergs are discussing the future of Penn Plaza, and how to make sure that low to moderate income families who live there have an alternative if Penn Plaza is ultimately renovated.

To read more about Penn Plaza and how it affects people in Pittsburgh, click here.

Join the Facebook page here.

Pittsburgh Passes #PaidSickDays!

PSD_launch_Miss_JaniceWe talked about our fight to win Earned Paid Sick Days for people in Pittsburgh last month. Through the effort of ACTION United and our allies our goal became a reality. Action United members got nearly 1000 petitions signed, and had many speakers at public hearings. Now workers in Pittsburgh no longer need to go to their jobs while sick, potentially infecting their colleagues, nor will parents be unable to stay home with a sick child and still pay the bills.

What this means for Pittsburgh:

  • Companies with 15 or more employees to give workers five paid days off to care for themselves or a family member.
  • Businesses with fewer employees will be required to provide 24 hours of paid sick time per year.
  • The law will affect 50,000 workers who lack paid sick time off.

To learn more about Pittsburgh Paid Sick Days click here.