January 5, 2016

2015 A Year in Review

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December 4, 2015

The People United Will Never Be Defeated! On behalf of our membership, I would like to thank you for joining us to celebrate ACTION United’s 4th Annual Holiday Party. This event is an opportunity to celebrate the many successes we experienced this year in improving our neighborhoods, our city, and state.

It has been an exciting and challenging year for ACTION United and we could not have had the success we enjoyed this year without the strong support of our friends and allies. Despite the challenges, we had a number of victories in 2015 around voter awareness, public education, and economic justice. This year, ACTION United in Southeastern PA has:

  • Continued as a key player in the PCAPS coalition and our fight to win the Schools our Children deserve
  • Sent 12 of our leaders and their children to join with allies around the state for an occupation of the Capitol and of Republicans’ offices for a week from June 29-July 3rd to demand full and fair school funding
  • Worked as part of the Raise the Wage coalition to raise our states ridiculously low minimum wage
  • Launched Green Justice Philly, a coalition of organizations fighting for Sustainable Green jobs and ending the poisoning of south Philly low income communities by the PES refinery
  • Finally! Won passage of Earned Paid Sick Days, covering over 150,000 workers in Philadelphia
  • Held a press conference and rally at Comegys School with over 100 community residents and Mayor Elect Jim Kenney and got him to commit to our demand to create 25 community schools in his first term
  • Helped elect our PAC endorsed candidates–Jim Kenney, Helen Gym, and Bill Greenlee–who have committed to support community schools, a higher minimum wage and sustainable jobs.
  • Got the Parks & Rec department to repair and clean up two in SW Philadelphia
  • Ran one of the largest GOTV operations for Democratic Supreme Court candidates in  November that resulted in a huge win for our issues
  • As part of the Campaign for Fair and Equitable Funding, won the adoption of a fair Funding Formula for Public Schools
  • As part of the CAP Comcast Campaign are on the verge of winning significant concession from Comcast that will make the internet more affordable and accessible for our members

Our work is possible because of our ACTION United members – everyday people who raise their voices, who hit the street and invest $10 a month to support the organization. Tonight we celebrate their tireless work and we challenge you to join them. We know the power of the everyday person to change the course of our city, our schools, and our nation. We challenge you to say “Yes” to investing $10 a month and becoming an ACTION United member. Whether you are an ally, visitor, or neighborhood supporter, become a member today so that we can continue to impact our neighborhoods and schools, and fight for poor and working families.

What I like about ACTION United is that we don’t half step. We never ask for anything – we demand it. ACTION United empowers the very people who are most times ignored and suffer from the exploitations of power and greed. During my time at ACTION United I’ve witnessed the power in organizing the unorganized. I get to talk to people; my neighbors and fellow citizens who are just as passionate about making sure our families and our children are afforded their rights to a quality education, goods jobs and safe neighborhoods.

I am proud of what we have accomplished this year and I am even more excited about what’s to come.

Yours in the Struggle,

Kia Philpot Hinton

Chairwoman

2015 Victories

Passing Paid Sick Days in Philly and Pittsburgh

IMG_1147On February 12th, after years of work since 2011, ACTION United in conjunction with Philadelphia City Council and The Center For Popular Democracy passed the Paid Sick Days Bill. Though staunchly opposed by big business, state politicians, and hedge fund managers, ACTION United was able to rally behind the people in the community to get this legislation passed and signed by Mayor Nutter. In May the legislation officially went into effect, meaning that low-income workers across the city can now afford to take a day off when they or a loved one is ill.

In May, ACTION United also fought to bring Paid Sick Days in Pittsburgh and won. Now in both cities low-wage workers don’t have to be victimized by unfair employers and have the ability to stay home, and get paid, when sick.

Occupy Harrisburg

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In July we stormed the state capitol building in Harrisburg to lay out the communities’ demands for increased and equitable school funding. For too long have our communities suffered from under-resourced schools, and with the change in our governor this year we saw a great opportunity to get what we need in our public schools.

Members with ACTION United met our State representatives and explained the need for additional funding in our school district and for specialized support programs. We also enlightened them on our community schools initiative and the need for pre-K.

Launching Green Justice Philly

greenjustice1Refinery pollution accounts for an overwhelming 72% of the air pollution in our city, producing an insane 700,000 pounds of air emissions that include Ammonia, Hydrogen Cyanide, and Sulfuric Acid. Of the 45,000 residents living one mile of the refinery, 71% of them are people of color and 32% live below the poverty line. This systematic destruction of our homes, health, and the well-being of our children must come to a stop.

In fall we officially launched Green Justice Philly, a coalition of seven environmental organizations who are dedicated to bringing awareness to the looming threat of wealthy energy executives, and their desire to expand refinery operations inside of Philly.

Saving 500 Families from Penn Plaza

penn_plaza_rallyWhen the Gumberg family handed out 90-day eviction notices our members who lived in Penn Plaza didn’t know what to do. ACTION United did though, organize, fight back, and make sure slumlords are held accountable. With very limited affordable housing options in Pittsburgh, ACTION United made sure to stick up for the hundreds of low-income families who lived in Penn Plaza.

In September it was decided that Penn Plaza owners would be required to pay $1,600 per apartment and have until Feb. 28th to find new quarters. This money will allow our members there to have the capability to afford the cost of moving and will help them transition to new apartments.
Voter Education & Mobilization

When we vote we get to choose who gets elected into office and can make sure they fight for our best interests. This year was a loaded year for elections. In Philadelphia, we went up against big business during the mayoral campaign, fighting back against the billionaire interests like the Susquehanna International Group who heavily influenced the elections. We helped elect the new mayor Jim Kenney who has dedicated the transformation of 25 public schools into community schools and who has dedicated to expand pre-k education and find other revenue streams for our public schools.

On a state level, we helped elect Governor Tom Wolf who has dedicated his time into injecting more money into PA education, and who has taken a staunch position on school funding now that he is in Harrisburg.

The 2015 Supreme Court Elections were also a massive victory for ACTION United. We managed to clean sweep as all three Democratic nominees were elected into office. In Pittsburgh, we were tasked with raising awareness of the vote, and getting more people active during election day. During our campaign we were able to knock on 17,000 doors and had over 1,000 conversations on the phone to registered voters in Pittsburgh. Many registered voters were unaware of the elections all together, and we were able to raise this awareness by having meaningful conversations with people about the future of this state.

Fighting Back against the Federal Reserve

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

Since last winter our organizers have been demanding the Federal Reserve to be more transparent in its election and decision making process. We asked the former FED president Charles Plosser to come out to our community and take a tour. For a year he declined, until a new president was elected in Patrick Harker.

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. There, Harker pledged to come out and see our communities to get a better understanding of what families are dealing with on a day to day basis. Eventually, his office agreed and we were able to arrange that meeting, showing some advancement between the relationship of the community with financial decision makers.

CAP COMCAST

Comcast is the largest company based out of Philadelphia, but does very little to support our city, even though we have an existing franchise agreement with them. Other than ignoring our city’s failing public schools, Comcast’s program to service low-income members called Internet Essentials is a complete joke with many barriers to entry, and only providing service to a fraction of low income people in Philly.

Out of 25 major cities, Philadelphia ranks 23 for internet accessibility, and in fact over 55% of Philadelphia lacks internet access which has become  crucial for finding a job. Throughout the year we have been putting pressure on City Council and Comcast to help fund our schools and make improvements over their low-income program.