Wish our Pittsburgh Community Action Team a happy belated first birthday! In December 2011, Working America members from throughout Western Pennsylvania came together at our Pittsburgh office to meet one another and to develop community awareness-raising skills.
Being Working America members, the folks around the meeting table were united in their support for economic fairness for working families and “the 99%.” They were team players who wanted to stand up for that mission.
Since its formation, our Pittsburgh Community Action Team has accomplished a tremendous amount to help our communities, our state, and our country become more economically just.
Last year, in support of a decent state budget that adequately funds education and social services by requiring corporate accountability, the team:
Developed a strategy, set goals, and received trainings;
Met with 6 elected officials’ offices, presenting personal statements highlighting personal connections to education, social services, and corporate accountability to speak up for a decent state budget;
Gathered dozens of post cards;
Held a press conference and post card delivery outside of Gov. Corbett’s office;
Had 5 letters to the editor published in local papers;
Got some friends and family to take action; and
Even earned a few TV and print media clips.
Thanks to their work and the work of innumerable Pennsylvanians across the state, our state legislature restored over $500 million to higher education, basic education, and social services in our current state budget.
Once we had completed our fight for a decent state budget last year, we began our civil rights mission: helping our communities understand Pennsylvania’s recently-altered and very convoluted voting laws.
Again, we developed a thoughtful strategy, set goals, and thought about how we could each effectively and feasibly contribute. Through person-to-person conversations, flyering, tabling, writing letters to the editor, calling into a local talk show, and being featured as guest speakers about voter suppression on the Chris Moore Show, Working America members educated approximately 642,038 people across the state on their voting rights.
Our work was critical, especially at a time when folks didn’t know that their rights had changed, or didn’t realize what was actually behind the new law and the misleading ads that promoted it. We motivated folks to vote and kept them updated on what they had to do in order to ensure that their votes would count.
At the close of 2012, as education and social services faced the looming possibility of national gutting, and as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security were vulnerable to the ax of “Grand Bargainers,” the Pittsburgh Community Action Team got involved. We rallied and held press conferences outside of our Senator Bob Casey’s district office, calling on him to take the lead in the fight to protect education, retirement security and healthcare programs by demanding that the Bush Tax Cuts for the top 2 percent are allowed to expire.
Although that fight isn’t quite over, education, social services, health programs, and retirement security programs were spared from the so-called “Fiscal Cliff,” and the unjust Bush Tax Cuts expired on many of the nation’s top earners.
Over the course of the team’s first 14 months, new folks have joined, members have developed an array of skills, and folks have learned tremendously from one another. The team members have found kindred spirits in one another, formed friendships, and developed a sense of belonging.
Working America teams like the Pittsburgh Community Action Team are getting together and taking action for economic justice all across the country. Become a part of a refreshing, dynamic group of thoughtful, committed citizens: get involved with your local Working America Community Action Team!
For nearly a year, Ariel Kempf was a server at a very busy breakfast and lunch café in Portland when, one day, while playing with her dog on the beach, she tore several tendons in her right leg. She had no health insurance, so she went to an urgent-care clinic where she was told she couldn’t put pressure on her leg for at least ten days and that it might take up to six weeks to heal. She had no sick days.
Without delay, she called her coworkers who agreed to cover her next few shifts. She hoped to return in a week or so. But when the busy weekend came around and nobody was available to cover her shifts, her boss told her to come in and prove that she was “really injured.”
“He suggested I was lying,” Kempf, 35, said. “I was in disbelief. I had no health benefits or insurance from this job. So I had a $100 doctor’s note and no money coming in and I was still asked to prove to my boss that I had a valid injury. It was insulting.”
Not long after, Kempf joined Working America, which is part of a larger effort in Portland working to pass an earned sick days ordinance. The proposal allows workers to earn one hour worth of sick time for every 30 hours worked – for no more than five days per year. Kempf is one of 3,000 people who have signed personal letters appealing to the Portland city council to pass the ordinance.
About 40 percent of private-sector workers in Portland and 80 percent of low-income workers nationally can’t earn a single day of paid sick leave.
“In the food service industry, you’re really expected to come to work sick – to be there no matter what,” she said. “If people had options I think it would relieve that tension and be better for all involved.”
“I joined this effort so that others don’t have to endure this type of treatment. Really, if I had been able to use sick days without these abusive repercussions, it would have been much easier to heal.”
The lack of earned sick days doesn’t just affect those in the food service industry; it also prevents parents from caring for their sick children, adding economic and personal stress to low-income families.
It’s been six months and Kempf is now back on her feet – literally and figuratively. She is in the process of starting her own business and works part-time to keep the bills paid.
“If there’s one thing I know it’s that everybody gets sick and everybody deserves time to heal,” she said.
The Republican-controlled legislature is kicking off their session by proposing a bill that would drastically slash unemployment benefits. The GOP wants to cut the maximum benefits unemployed workers can receive by one-third, the most severe cut any state has ever proposed. The maximum benefits received would be cut by $175, from $525 to $350 per week. Also the amount of time workers can stay on the state’s unemployment benefits would be reduced from 26 weeks, to a sliding scale from 12 to 20 weeks, based upon the state’s unemployment rate.
Unemployment benefits are received by workers who lost their job due to no fault of their own. Benefits help workers stay afloat, while allowing them to still contribute to the local economy. It is a win-win situation – but apparently our state legislators do not see it this way.
Right now, North Carolina is about $2.5 billion in debt to the federal government. Since 2009, there have been temporary taxes on corporations to pay back this debt. Under the current system, the debt will be paid back by 2018. GOP legislators argue that if benefits are cut, the debt will be paid back sooner.
No matter what, the federal government will get their money back. They are not asking for this process to be expedited. Yet our state legislators see this small temporary tax on businesses to be a burden. The temporary taxes are only $21 per employee each year, which will not break the bank for major corporations.
If workers benefits are cut by $175 per week, they are going to be the ones burdened. $175 can be the difference between paying for rent, heat, buying groceries – or not. If this legislation goes through, workers will be sacrificing more while corporations get tax breaks.
Our members have been writing letters to their legislators and also letters to the editors. In a published letter to the editor on the effect of cutting unemployment benefits, Working America member Norma Marshall states:
“The result will be more people who are unable to pay rent and mortgages, or feed and care for their children. It will lead to more misery and economic strife for the unemployed.”
The legislative session in Colorado is now three weeks in, and all of our newly and not-so-newly elected officials are running around the capital trying to make their marks. What does that mean for Denver’s Community Action Team? We get a chance to do what we do best: strengthen our movement to hold our politicians accountable and stand up for working families across the state.
Many of our activists have never had the opportunity to be involved with an organization like Working America. Some became interested only after an organizer knocked on their door to talk about issues affecting the middle class. A few were actually former organizers that felt impacted by the work they were doing and the folks they got a chance to interact with. In each case, a small, moving conversation touched on a personal note for each of our activists, and inspired each person to take a step forward towards making a difference.
Fast forward to now and we have a group of diverse, smart, passionate, hardworking activists who can rely on each other and the organization to the keep the movement going. We are young, old, professional, retired, unemployed, parents, students, and everything in between. It is understood that it is not the differences that keep us coming back month after month, but our common bonds and experiences. Most importantly, we all agree on the same goals: to help strengthen the middle class in whatever ways that we can.
While the friendships and sense of community are powerful in themselves, our Community Action Team realized that if we really want to feel empowered and pass that empowerment onto our communities, we needed to challenge ourselves to become leaders. At our meeting in January, Working America facilitated an Organizing 101 training to give our activists the tools necessary to organize our individual communities. We developed a training that highlighted the power to fight with people versus that of money or weapons. We discussed having that very first conversation that might inspire someone to get involved, and some of the best practices for making those conversations effective. Part of the training was a fun interactive skit where we demonstrated the power of cooperative leadership. It illustrated what we want our leadership model to be; one where everyone relies on one another to build stability, motivation, creativity, and accountability and coordination keeps it together. We ended by agreeing to practice having those conversations by gathering petition signatures for an upcoming labor bill.
One member, Dave, is well on his way to becoming a leader of his own community. “My attitude is one of finding the infinite value and worth of every person and creature. That said, however, I repeat my sincere thanks to the whole team. I was deeply inspired by each and every team member. And, mostly, by the special magic of the simple fact that ordinary working people have once again come together to act out the promise of our common humanity. This simple fact of coming together elevates and inspires us all–and, we must hold on to and protect our common efforts.”
As hard as Michigan’s winters can hit, so has our latest lame duck session.
Before last December, there were 23 states with fair bargaining bans, also known as “right to work” states. Sadly, the cradle of labor holds the title as number 24. On December 11th, the Michigan legislature rammed through numerous controversial bills, exploiting the advantage of a lame duck session.
Through a shameful display of cowardice, they passed so-called “right to work” legislation in record time with no debate in both the State House and Senate, no committee hearings and with a $1 million appropriation attached to it, effectively making it impossible to bring this issue to the voters in an election. “Why can’t you take this to the voters? Because you know what will happen. You’re doing this in the lame duck because you know in the next session you won’t have the votes!” Rep. Brandon Dillon (D-Grand Rapids).
The Republicans chose to ignore their constituents, and rolled back decades of workers’ rights that many made deep sacrifices to achieve.
Now that the lame duck session is over, a new legislative session has begun. Along with it come concerns that banning fair bargaining in Michigan isn’t far enough for Republican legislators. The threat of privatization hangs over the heads of teachers and staff in our public schools. Possible efforts to roll back MIOSHA, the state agency overseeing worker safety, could make workplaces across Michigan even more unsafe.
But currently what concerns Working America’s members in Michigan the most is the repeal of Prevailing Wages. In government contracting, a prevailing wage is defined as the hourly wage, usual benefits and overtime, paid to the majority of workers, laborers, and mechanics within a particular area. These standards are crucial and necessary to provide a livable and fair wage to skilled workers that build our roads, highways, schools and other government funded projects.
When you eliminate the prevailing wage standard, it encourages contractors to take short cuts. It compromises work quality, increases injury rates and lost work time, and results in higher maintenance costs.
This will also bring more outsourcing into Michigan. Predatory contractors will gain the incentive to underbid established businesses by using unskilled or low-skilled workers that come from other parts of the country who are willing to work for less than the local labor market is paying.
Our organizers have been reaching out to members, and overwhelmingly they agree that this is the wrong direction to go.
“The state of Michigan’s economy is very important and fair wages must be paramount for the workers. As a stay at home mom it is important that the wages of my husband be protected. You can protect prevailing wage laws. Please keep the wages with the workers” says member Trisha Zessler of Monroe.
Rich CEO’s and their lobbyists would like to make you think that repealing prevailing wage would save taxpayers money. But in reality, it will cost us more in the long run. Pension plans that were previously privately covered will force tax payers to pick up the tab. Roads that were constructed and repaired by qualified and highly skilled workers will be built with lower standards, making it more likely to need repairs sooner and be replaced frequently. And you can count on dramatically slashed wages for our workers.
This is the last thing that we need here in Michigan. This isn’t carrying the message of more jobs. Instead, it is clearly sending a message that we deserve to be paid less and put more of our hard earned tax dollars in the pockets of rich CEO’s.
Congrats to Brenda Rodriguez, our new Member Coordinator in Albuquerque, on her first post for the Main Street Blog! -Doug
This past Christmas, when majority of people kept a close watch on their holiday spending, Working America members took the time and energy to speak with their co-workers, friends, and neighbors to ask them to donate a can or two for our annual holiday food drive. The result? A network of people came together to create Christmas Gift Baskets for families who are currently unemployed or underemployed.
One such member is Rosie Sandoval, a retired 71 year old, who reached out to all her neighbors about donating non-perishable food items for the holiday food drive. Thanks to her efforts, Rosie – along with her network of neighbors – was able to contribute to the food baskets for families in New Mexico. Mrs. Sandoval understands the plight of many working-class families first hand but also values the power of collective giving: “It’s not much, but we share all that we can during these difficult economic times.”
Such is the case for Martin Hall, a 53-year old disabled veteran, who depends on social security. “I can’t afford gas,” Mr. Hall explains, “so I have to walk it everywhere. If they were to lower Social Security, I won’t be able to pay for rent or my bills. I will be living in the streets.” Mr. Hall voices the concern of many people in New Mexico currently struggling with unemployment and poverty. It is going take a strong collective force to make the change New Mexico needs.
A year ago, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez spoke about a “shared sacrifice” in her State of the State address. At that time 1 out of 4 children lived in poverty, and corporations enjoyed a very comfy tax loophole (they still do). Startling economic indicators show, however, that Martinez’s so-called “shared sacrifice” isn’t getting New Mexico’s economy back on track. As we start the New Year, we must resolve to bring the uneven weight of these sacrifices to light and begin to reprioritize our collective needs.
Despite all of this, 2012 ended with a great victory for Albuquerque. The initiative to raise the minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50 passed with an overwhelming support of 66 percent, meaning 2 out of every 3 Burqueños voted in favor of the initiative. Thanks to Albuquerque voters, 40,000 people will benefit from this new legislative bill giving the community spending power and boosting the local economy. The implementation of the minimum wage increase in Albuquerque signifies a new beginning for New Mexico. In a time when 6.2 percent of New Mexicans are unemployed and 31 percent of New Mexico children live in poverty, it is time to reevaluate the priorities of our state leaders and start following the thread of collective power of our communities.
The spirit of the holidays, just like the energy of the New Year, should not be measured by a shared sacrifice, but by the long-lasting relationships we form with our neighbors and co-workers that creates a collective power that can win a minimum wage increase by a landslide, a collective power that can and will fight against poverty, job loss and unemployment; the spirit of I am Working America.
With Congress continuing to struggle in federal budget negotiations – the notorious “fiscal cliff” with its automatic cuts to federal spending along with an end to all the Bush era income tax cuts – Working American members have more than their personal New Year’s resolutions on their minds. Throughout the last several weeks of the “lame duck” session in Congress, as they have been paying close attention to developments taking place on Capitol Hill, they have been moving forward with a campaign to make their strength in numbers felt in the debate.
Here in southwest Ohio, the target of their efforts has been Senator Sherrod Brown. They want him to clearly understand what members are demanding: an end to Bush era tax cuts for the richest 2%, along with no cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Members have been writing letters as part of a campaign to gather hundreds of hand-written messages to the Senator from throughout the state. First of all, there was a desire to thank the Senator for being a reliable and long-time advocate for working families. Now, middle class Ohioans are asking him to be a champion for us on the issues that we all care about. In doing so, many in the greater Cincinnati area have also told their personal stories of how they or loved ones depend on these essential programs for their livelihoods, and even their very lives.
One such member is Julia Rothwell. A single mother with a full-time job, a new small business, and a daughter soon heading off to college, she worries about the future of Social Security:
“I will be hopefully retiring in about 25 years, and wonder whether I will have the Social Security benefits that I have been contributing to for the last 25 years. Please make sure to protect what I have worked for, and many Americans have worked for, so we may have peace of mind when we grow old.”
Karen Dollinger is another. A visiting assistant professor from Oxford in southwest Ohio, she holds these concerns for her parents, who also reside in the state:
“My parents are in their 60s, and my mother, who is a cancer survivor, and my father, who has Parkinson’s Disease, are on Medicare. Should my father need to go to a nursing home, my parents would need Medicaid to pay for it. They are not wealthy, and need a fair amount of medical care. If Medicare and Medicaid are cut, I worry about their survival, as they are already struggling to pay bills. I am certain that many other Americans find themselves in the same situation.”
And finally, there is Tammy Friedman. A nurse by training, she is currently a stay at home mom, and has a young son with special needs. In her letter to the Senator, she discusses the importance of preserving programs and institutions that are vital to the well-being of the “98%” and crucial to affording opportunity to people like her:
“We need to end the Bush tax cuts for the disproportionately richest Americans and restore them to the levels they were previously. This only makes sense and helps the nation as a whole. The burden of taxes on the middle class is already oppressive enough, and restoring the previous tax percentage on the 1-2% of wealthiest Americans would not burden or oppress anybody.”
Tammy gives voice to a view held by so many. What she recognizes – along with Julia, Karen, and millions of Working America members across the country – is that when they raise their voices together, they are more powerful. This strength can have a significant impact on what is taking place in Congress right now and into the New Year. You can raise your voice as well! Make contacting your members of Congress about these important issues your resolution. You can take action here.
Since the day after the election, Working America’s Denver team have been talking to working families all over the state of Colorado about the so called “fiscal cliff” and the impact that it will have on the workers of this state. We have heard countless, heartbreaking stories from individuals who depend on programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and don’t want to see them used as a bargaining chip so that the wealthiest two percent can keep their tax break. These are two such stories.
Hannah suffers from a rare disease called severe fibromyalgia. This disease causes debilitating pain all throughout the body. Doctors know little about the cause and there is no cure. Because of this, Hannah is unable to work and recently moved back in with her parents. This disease has caused her to also suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which makes her day-to-day activities even harder on top of her pain. The medications that her various doctors have prescribed her help moderately with the pain, but are not able to arrest symptoms completely and cause unwanted side-effects like drowsiness and challenges to her short term memory and fine motor abilities.
Hannah has hit a dead end in the search for a Rheumatologist to help her find an adequate solution to her problem. She has been dropped as a patient four times within the last year because her doctors no longer want to accept patients on Medicaid, which is the only way Hannah and her family can afford care.
Jan, a Working America activist, is Hannah’s mother and primary caregiver. Her schedule and livelihood revolve around Hannah’s in many cases. Jan receives no compensation or support services for being Hannah’s caregiver. “I have other added fiduciary duties that I must perform to meet for Hannah’s needs. Often I do my own case work as well. What is offered to Hannah is sorely inefficient and often puts more demands on me than if I just did it myself in the first place.”
Elise is a physical therapist in Denver who works at a local hospital. She was able to contrast the services provided by non-profit organizations, like her hospital, and private healthcare providers. She said the main reason that patients get denied or dropped from services is because these professionals do not get reimbursed or compensated as well through Medicaid as they do through private or other insurance plans, and often times lose money.
Elise also explains the frustration that comes with other factors strictly controlled by Medicare, like the amount of care and time a patient is eligible for, barring the health care providers from maximizing their abilities and knowledge. While it is obvious these government-controlled payment structures are lacking in some areas, Elise still agrees that more Americans are able to receive care with them than without them.
If more money is cut from these programs, less money would be available to reimburse the clinicians, resulting in less care for the sick and suffering. And while often thrown in the middle of the Medicare/Medicaid debate, health care providers are workers too contributing to the same economy. “I believe a lot of good people who want to serve others often become healthcare providers, but we’re also human and want to be compensated for the care we provide and the education we’ve worked hard for.”
These are only a few stories of hard working individuals majorly affected by a vital program that has already faced dramatic cuts in funding. If our politicians, who were elected to represent all of us, decide to compromise and cut funding further for programs that keep many afloat, we all suffer. From the health care providers to their patients, these are services we depend on to maintain a strong population.
On Monday, December 10, our team took Jan and Elise’s stories – and hundreds of others in the form of hand written letters - to both Senator Michael Bennet’s and Senator Mark Udall’s offices.
If you have a story of your own, or would like to get involved in holding our politicians in Colorado accountable, please send it to Alice Gardner at email@example.com.
Working America activists in Wisconsin have been diligently putting pen to paper (well, postcard) for the last few weeks in an effort to urge voters to get out on Election Day and vote.
Women (and a few men) from across the state have been getting together for our Woman-to-Woman Pizza and Postcard parties. Our members realize that the stakes are high this election and are enjoying the chance to reach out to others about the candidates that support our issues.
One of the messages our members felt needed to be spread was President Barack Obama’s willingness to represent the entire country as president. They reminded folks of Mitt Romney’s now infamous “47 percent” comments, which disregard almost half of voters as “dependent on the government” and unwilling to “take personal responsibility […] for their lives.”
Activists wrote postcard after postcard reminding folks that Romney’s tax plan benefits the wealthy and harms the middle class and the poor. The Romney-Ryan agenda cuts taxes for the wealthy at the expense those who are already struggling to get by.
Our members want to spread the word that it’s just not right to take more from a family who can barely put food on the table so that the super wealthy can get tax breaks they don’t need.
Rosemarie from Oak Creek talked about how squeezed the middle class already is and how we need people who represent more than just the wealthy in office. “Most of our senators and congressmen are millionaires,” she said, “it doesn’t matter to them if their electric or tax bills go up but the rest of us struggle with that.”
Rosemarie’s sentiments closely align with most of the people in Wisconsin: they want to be truly represented. They want someone in office who is going to worry about the things they worry about.
Beyond tax fairness, Wisconsinites are worried about jobs – for themselves, for their family, for their friends and for their neighbors. While they’re worried about keeping their job or finding a good job, politicians like Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) keep voting against any bill that would help the middle class while attacking the social safety net. Republican Senate candidate Tommy Thompson’s latest promise to “do away with Medicare” proves he’s just another Ron Johnson.
Our members know that’s not what Wisconsin needs, so they are making sure to spread the word on candidates that support our issues. The postcards urge folks to vote for Tammy Baldwin for U.S. Senate who will listen to their concerns and fight on their behalf for good jobs and tax fairness.
These postcard parties are important to our members and important for voters. Our Working America activists want to make sure that the issues are known. Jerry from Racine said she came to a Pizza and Postcard Party because “our voices need to be heard, they have been trying to silence us and I won’t let them. Voting is our right and we are going to keep it that way.”
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”
So begins A Tale of Two Cities, the renowned novel by Charles Dickens. Born in poverty, with a father in debtor’s prison, Dickens understood and uplifted the plight of working people fighting to survive and thrive in an economy in which technology was transforming life, and average citizens too often suffered under the subject of forces seemingly out of their control. Dickens’ opening words ring true to us today (for better or worse). They don’t simply capture the sentiment of his own era – they also speak to us in the present, here in the United States.
And here, today, we have “A Tale of Six Cities.”
It is a story set in Cincinnati and Cleveland, Columbus and Jackson, Milwaukee and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Last week, in each city, Working America stood up once again to have their voices heard and to hold politicians accountable.
Over two hundred years ago, the downtrodden people of Paris turned to the streets to loudly proclaim their opposition to unjust governance, unbridled avarice, and unfair taxes.
Last week, we turned out to make known their opposition to tax policies that benefit the few at the expense of the many. We sought the ears of our politicians that are unfortunately choosing to represent the interests of the 2 percent wealthiest in this country, rather than looking out for the rest of us.
We were not out shouting for bloody revolution as workers in France did so many years ago, but our passion for economic fairness and good jobs was clear: Wielding pens rather than pitchforks, canvassing the sidewalks rather than storming the boulevards, we asked people to sign on to the demands for the wealthiest in this country to pay their fair share. Rather than bearing torches, with searing satire we carried large checks for $160,000, representing the average virtual checks that both the Senate and the House of Representatives had recently voted to write to the richest 2 percent in America.
We insisted that additional tax cuts for heads of corporations and other millionaires should not come at the expense of Medicare for our seniors, access to higher education, and raising taxes on 25 million working Americans. We still need these politicians to hear our displeasure at the attempt to hold middle class tax cuts hostage by shielding the wealthiest from merely having to pay the same rates under which they prospered in the Clinton years (and only on their income over $250,000).
Our members also told their personal stories of struggle in this Bush-created economic system. Stories like that told in Milwaukee by contractor and member Todd Sprewer, of how small businesses like his have suffered at the behest of large corporations under policies supported by Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson. Or like that of member and veteran Ed Jude, whose wife is unable to get the health coverage she needs in the Badger state. Stories of how families fight to stay afloat while they see cuts to education and infrastructure, like that told by Minneapolis area member Mike Adair, who criticized Rep. John Kline’s support of tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent. Members like Paul Hoffinger of Minnesota spoke to the press, explaining why they chose to go out and visit the offices of their elected officials, and how Working America was fighting for middle class families. And they were supported by the people they met, like the construction worker in Columbus who climbed down from his scaffolding, and wearing his hard hat joined the assembled group outside the office of Senator Rob Portman.
Unlike in the Reign of Terror, where French rulers were physically thrown out of their offices, it was the threat of being turned out by voters on Election Day that forced some officials to respond to the actions last week. Like Congressman Tim Wahlberg, whose district director in Michigan not only met with Working America on the spot, but who felt required to personally take to the airwaves as well as issue a statement in response. On the other hand, as arrogant Bourbon royalty ignored the cries of the French people to have a say in their government – much to their peril – so do we have self-assured politicians like Senator Rob Portman, who bar their offices from the people, removing them away in tall towers, hiding them behind guards, and staffing them with attendants who refuse to take even a moment to meet face-to-face with constituents and hear what they have to say.
Tens of thousands of Londoners were suffering through economic hardship in 1854, the year Dickens’ novel Hard Times was published, bringing attention to the plight of the working poor. More than 1 million Working America members over four states were represented by the over 150 organizers and activists who stood together united in their support for policies that would bring greater economic fairness and prosperity to middle class Americans. Significantly, they were joined on that day by citizens in 30 cities across the country, all part of a National Day of Action organized by not only Working America, but by a coalition of allies who helped give voice in part to the 58 percent of Americans – over 175 million people – who believe that too few taxes are paid by the wealthy rich.
When it is all said and done, whether it’s a tale of two cities or six cities, one city or hundreds, whether that tale is set in the past, the present, or the future, it’s the power of strength in numbers that carries the day. It is a strength that is at the core of Working America. A strength which grows as new members sign up and take action across this country every day. A strength that powers a movement. One which will ensure that our politicians and policies of the future will truly listen to the interests of working families.