Protect Our Jobs Campaign Update

WCAT members have been working with the Protect Our Jobs campaign in Michigan. Here’s an update from the campaign:

“Showing determination to protect collective bargaining rights for Michigan working men and women, thousands of volunteers with Protect Our Jobs (POJ) participated in a telephone town hall meeting on Thursday, June 28th.
The purpose of this tele-town hall was to give POJ volunteers an overview of the campaign’s achievements so far, including the successful campaign that gathered nearly 700,000 petition signatures in support of the collective bargaining initiative. Volunteers also engaged in a question and answer session which detailed POJ goals,
objectives and priorities leading up to the crucial November 6th election.
The campaign to protect collective bargaining has already overcome one attempt by corporate special interests to stop it. Despite calls to remove the initiative from the ballot, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said she would allow the signature verification process to continue.
This telephone town hall was first of many that POJ will sponsor to help keep our volunteers connected, involved and focused on the many challenges in the weeks and months ahead.”

To join the fight to protect collective bargaining in Michigan, sign up at the Protect Our Jobs website.

WCAT Now Offers Free Childcare at All Meetings

The Washtenaw Community Action Team (WCAT) is now offering free childcare at our weekly Thursday meetings, in an effort to accommodate parents and families. Various games and activities will be available, so please bring your kids!

WCAT’s weekly meetings are Thursdays at 7pm at 330 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor (3rd floor).

 

New WCAT Leaflet on Protecting Workers’ Right to Organize

Inequality in the United States has reached unprecedented proportions. Big corporations, banks, and the super-wealthy have enriched themselves at the expense of working people, nearly destroying the economy and the Earth in the process. Yet because of corporate influence over government, politicians in Michigan and elsewhere are now targeting workers as a scapegoat for all the problems caused by banks and corporations. They have spread absurd myths about workers and their unions, and have pushed new laws that restrict workers’ ability to organize and further undermine democracy in the workplace (over 80 in Michigan alone). This new WCAT leaflet highlights the historical role of working-class movements in winning basic rights and freedoms in this country, and explains why a reinvigorated union movement is vital to building a more just and democratic society today. The first step is passing a state constitutional amendment that guarantees the collective bargaining rights of all Michigan workers against present and future attacks. The proposed amendment will appear on the Michigan ballot as a referendum in November 2012. To get involved with this campaign, stop by our weekly meetings, Thursdays at 7pm at 330 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor (3rd floor).

Download the new WCAT leaflet (PDF format).

The WCAT Celebrates A Year Of Community Building and Activism

Sunday, March 25, marks the 1-year anniversary of what has affectionately come to be known as the Double-U Cat – the Washtenaw Community Action Team.

In the last year, we have stood in solidarity with our local union sisters and brothers; helped lead the effort to put Public Act 4 on the 2012 ballot; spoke out against a broken immigration system that threatens the deportation of our neighbors; and held a social forum and a teach-in on the possibility of another workplace, another education, another world; and much more.

Responding to the call of embattled Wisconsin workers last year, 9 members of the Graduate Employees Organization, President of the Ann Arbor Education Association , and a member of AFSCME came together to plan for a solidarity rally on Ingalls Plaza. The rally would celebrate the legacy of civil rights leader and working people advocate – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

That day, firefighters, lecturers, graduate students, nurses, teachers, custodial workers, persons of faith and community members turned out in the hundreds to voice opposition to cuts in public services and education rushed through by Governor Snyder and the Republican Legislature.

The rally finished with a winding march through the City of Ann Arbor into Liberty Plaza. Along the way, the crowd – young and old – sang songs from the bygone era that put Ann Arbor on the map and chanted slogans created in the days leading up the rally.

The catalytic Brit Satchwell summed it up nicely when he said, “I always knew when it comes and hits the fan like this, we’d meet all kinds of new family members.”

Indeed, the greatest achievement of the WCAT thus far has been the creation of a small but thriving community that works towards social and economic justice each week.

But the attack on workers by Governor Snyder and the Republican legislature has intensified as have the consequences  for Michigan communities of Snyder’s 1.6 billion bailout of big business.

We have witnessed vulgar and retaliatory attacks in the passage of a pair of bills that compromise the collective bargaining rights of Michigan workers. Our graduate student research assistant allies have been denied the right to vote on a union and our public school brothers and sisters are no longer able to bargain for a contract allowing payroll deduction of dues.

Just as we were in 2011, the WCAT will be a leading voice for the rights and welfare of working people in Michigan.

We are already hard at work collecting signatures to put the question of a constitutional amendment to protect collective bargaining rights on the 2012 ballot.

[Visit: Protect Our Jobs or e-mail CATvolunteers@googlegroups.com to join the campaign.]

We are also working to keep our neighbors in their homes through Washtenaw Foreclosure Defense.

We need your talent, your passion, your commitment, your voice. Join us as we work for a more just and equitable Michigan – a Michigan where all workers are treated with dignity.

Join us for our weekly meetings at 330 E. Liberty (3rd Floor) – 7:00-8:30pm, Thursdays.

Protect our collective bargaining rights! Join the petition drive!

Should Michigan’s voters decide if they want to protect their collective bargaining rights by amending the state’s constitution?  We think so, and we believe the state will be better off if we amend.  And so we’re doing our part to gather the 322,000 signatures needed to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November 2012.  Watch for a petitions near you!  Or email CATvolunteers@googlegroups.com to join the campaign.

More information at Protect Our Jobs.

Here are the bills that the Republicans have passed, or intend to pass, to destroy collective bargaining, the right to organize, and unions — bit by bit.  It’s a long list, over 80!

What is collective bargaining?  It is the when a group of people seek to negotiate with their employer for better pay, benefits, and working conditions.  They usually choose a representative.

Why does collective bargaining need protection?  Because the Michigan Legislature, under Republican control, is dead set on making it impossible.  See the list of bills.

How do we seek to protect it?  By letting Michiganders decide in the November 2012 election if we need an amendment to Michigan’s constitution that protects collective bargaining.  If we get enough signatures, the question will go on the ballot, so sign the petition!

What can you do?  Join the campaign.  Get a petition, and ask your family and friends to sign it.  If you live in Washtenaw County, email CATvolunteers@googlegroups.com

Thanks!

WCAT Announces Washtenaw Foreclosure Defense (WFD)

The Washtenaw Community Action Team announces Washtenaw Foreclosure Defense (WFD) – a joint venture with members of Occupy Ann Arbor and Occupy Ypsilanti.

WFD is committed to building a broad-based coalition of neighborhood associations, the inter-faith community, social justice and labor organizations, students, and community members to keep the banks out and our neighbors in their homes through know your rights trainings, legal resources, existing governmental and non-profit programs, political action, and direct action. [Excerpt from ‘About Us’ – For More Click Here]

If you are interested in attending our weekly meetings, participating in our bi-weekly community building events or providing legal and/or housing-counseling services write  washtenawforeclosures@gmail.com or call 734-707-1933.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture from our bi-weekly community building events.

 

WCAT Denounces Racist Ad; Call And Write Hoekstra Today

U.S. Senate hopeful (R) Pete Hoekstra aired a despicably racist television ad Sunday night featuring an anonymously Asian woman who, in broken English, celebrates the destruction of the Michigan economy – supposedly as a result of the economic policies of (D) Debbie Stabenow – to the benefit of an anonymously Asian economy.

The response to the ad ranges from tepid to disgusted.

The disgusted included GOP commissioner of Washtenaw County Alicia Ping, and GOP consultant Nick DeLeeuw. Both DeLeeuw and Ping were clear in calling the ad ‘racist’ and ‘xenophobic.’

Counted among the tepid responses is Chairman of Michigan Democratic Party, Mark Brewer, who called the ad a “hypocritical attempt at a Hollywood-style makeover because the fact is, Pete spends a lot.”

Brewer, of course, misses the point. This is perhaps attributable to the fact that he is not unfamiliar with the use of race-baiting tactics to attack political opponents. As Politico notes, in the 2006 gubernatorial race Brewer “provided fortune cookies to reporters with messages that said GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos ‘would outsource your jobs to China'” and developed an ad that “featured a loud gong and Chinese music.”

Not surprisingly, there are rabid apologists in the ranks of the GOP, including Governor Snyder’s former advisers. Take for example, the cynical defense offered by John Weaver. “Are we saying everybody in China only speaks Mandarin or perfect English? They’ve gained attention on the topic, which is vital,” Weaver said. “I think the Republican elites who — no offense — follow POLITICO aren’t going to affect the average voter in Michigan.”

The ad, according to Weaver, accurately portrays the way Asian people talk about ruining Michigan’s economy. Really? Weaver also seems to assume that Michigan voters are either dumb and/or racist enough to be affected by this in a way that will benefit Hoekstra.

Hoekstra and his staff have also gone out of their way to defend the campaign by means of pernicious distortions. Hoekstra’s spokesperson, for example, claimed: ‘The fact that a Chinese girl is speaking English is a testament to how they can compete with us, when an American boy of the same age speaking Mandarin is absolutely insane, or unthinkable right now.”

Despite the apparent consensus that the woman featured in the ad is Chinese and the economy discussed is the Chinese economy, there is nothing in the ad that indicates this other than the deployment of a few disgusting cultural and racial stereotypes.

Herein lies the destructiveness of the ad: Anyone deemed ‘Asian’ becomes the potential object of resentment and anger of the struggling Michigander Pete Hoekstra targets.

As Juan Cole dutifully reminds us, this kind of discrimination is not without historical precedent in the State of Michigan, and has even resulted in racially-motivated violence.  In 1982 Chinese-American Vincent Chin was murdered by an out of work member of Chrysler management, Roger Ebens, who attributed his unemployment to competition with the Japanese auto industry.

The Washtenaw Community Action Team stands with those persons and organizations denouncing this ad as racist and destructive. We want to send the clear message that this ad is racist before it is disingenuous about Stabenaw’s record; it is racist before it is a ‘really, really, really, dumb’ campaign strategy (GOP National Consultant Mike Murphy); it is racist regardless of the motivation of members of the GOP who have attacked the ad.

It is racist. Full stop. And for that reason alone it is unacceptable and deplorable.

Take a minute to call [(616) 301-3105] or write  the Hoekstra campaign demanding that they take down their racist advertisement and let them know that race-baiting won’t work on Michigan voters.

Only two weeks left! Help put the PA4 emergency manager law on the ballot.

Actually, we have less than two weeks left!
Deadline is Thursday 16 February 7 pm
Petition signatures must be delivered to the GEO/LEO office on Liberty by that time.

We’re helping to build a bigger cushion to ensure we have enough signatures to let Michigan voters decide whether they want to repeal PA4.

If you’d like to help, please send an email to: catvolunteers@googlegroups.com

“Emergency managers” are really just Snyder appointees, so let’s call them that.

Why help put this law on the ballot?
1. A Snyder appointee, AKA “emergency manager”, can break contracts.
2. A Snyder appointee can sell public assets, such as parks and buildings, without public approval.
3. A Snyder appointee can tell a school district what to teach. (Sections 17 and 18)
4. Snyder cut the budgets of cities and school districts, and now is forcing appointees on them because they are in financial trouble.
5. A Snyder appointee undermines local democracy. Mayors, city councils, and school boards have no power.
6. And more! See the law.

Read the law at:  http://www.legislature.mi.gov/%28S%28w34czqupywnodn454ptws555%29%29/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=mcl-act-4-of-2011

Local Immigrants’ Rights Advocates Return to City Hall; WCAT Supports Resolution

In June 2010, Ann Arbor community member, Lourdes Salazar Bautista, was detained for 1 month and given an order of deportation. Lourdes has lived in the United States for 14 years and has three daughters -13, 9 and 7 – and a brother that are United States citizens.

Facing a deportation date of December 27 of last year, Lourdes reached out to her community for help. The Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition For Immigrant Rights (WICIR) and the University of Michigan’s Social Work Allies for Immigrant Rights (SWAIR) responded by organizing ralliesvigils and a phone campaign to ICE and the Department of Homeland Security demanding that the agencies stop the deportation and apply prosecutorial discretion as Lourdes has no criminal record.

In early December, Lourdes, her family and community, WICIR and SWAIR, took the fight to Ann Arbor City Hall and the Washtenaw County Commission. Lourdes and her allies asked the local bodies to write a letter on her behalf demanding a halt to her deportation.

On December 17th, 10 days before her scheduled deportation, Lourdes and her family learned that her deportation had been postponed one year. The coalition of immigrant’s rights groups, students, the faith community, and Ann Arbor residents successfully secured letters of support from the Ann Arbor City Council, the Washtenaw County Commission, Senator Levin, Congressman Dingell as well as 2,500 petition signatures.

This injustice could not have been stopped without the commitment and work by a number of local area organizations and the willingness of people in Ann Arbor – including manymembers of the WCAT – to stand up for one of their community members.

Last night, WICIR and SWAIR returned to city hall to ask that the council adopt a resolution that calls for the federal government to end its war on undocumented immigrants. The WCAT will add its name to the list of area organizations that support the resolution and want to see an end to the persecution of our brothers and sisters in the community.

The resolution was passed 9-2.

WCAT’s Kevin Young delivered the following statement in support of the resolution last night (see below).

For more information and resources:

WCAT’s Diana Sierra ‘Community Mobilizes to Stop Deportation of Mother of Three’

http://www.zcommunications.org/community-mobilizes-to-stop-deportation-of-mother-of-three-by-diana-sierra

 Dream Activist: Undocumented Students & Resource Action Network

http://action.dreamactivist.org/

Alliance for Immigrant Rights and Reform – Michigan

http://www.michiganimmigrationreform.org/

——————–

My name is Kevin Young and I’m here to speak on behalf of the Washtenaw Community Action Team, which is an organization of Ann Arbor-area residents committed to working for justice in Washtenaw County and beyond. We strongly support the spirit of the resolution under discussion, which calls upon the federal government to end its war on undocumented immigrants. Under current laws, most of these immigrants have no realistic chance of “legalizing” their residence in this country in a timely way no matter what they do. If passed by the City Council, this resolution would constitute a firm statement on behalf of justice and human dignity.

We hope that the passage of this resolution will help expand the discussion on immigration in this country beyond its current, very narrow parameters, by countering the rhetoric that blames immigrants and shifting attention to the root causes of human migration, namely the staggering level of global inequality and the neoliberal economic policies promoted by our government overseas which result in further poverty, inequality, violence, and desperation.

At the level of Ann Arbor, we hope that this step by the City Council will help strengthen the community coalition dedicated to protecting the rights of immigrants and fighting for equality for all people irrespective of race or national origin.

Tomorrow: Occupy For The Future Of Democracy Teach In

WCAT / Occupy Ann Arbor / Occupy UM Present: Occupy for the Future of Democracy – Tomorrow 11-5, Michigan Union (Rooms 2105 A &B)

18 students, professors, labor and social activists from around the state will hold workshops for imagining and making happen another world.

Click Here For More Information: FB EVENT Page 

Introductory Comments & Welcome

11:00-11:15pm 

Session 1: Radical Histories: 11:15-12:30

The Tradition of Radical Labor

Steve Babson [Detroit Union Activist and Labor Educator]

Revolutionary France 1789 & 1968 

Ronen Steinberg [MSU Assistant Professor of Western European Political and Intellectual History]

Odile Hugonot Haber [Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, WCAT]

Section II: The Crisis: 1:00-2:15

The Crisis: Economic, Political, & Ecological

Peter Solenberger [Solidarity]

Serge Farinas [UM Graduate Student, WCAT]

Tom Weisskopf [Emeritus Professor of Economics UM]

The Crisis: Race, Gender, & National Oppression
Brandon E. Mitchell [Master of Ceremonies, Abolitionist Projects]

Diana Carolina [Graduate Student]

Section III: The Response: 2:15-3:30

The Groundwork for Occupy on Campus: Student Protests and Solidarity 

Adam Warner [WCAT]

Katie Frank [GEO, UM Graduate Student]

After the Empire Crumbles: Visions for the Future
Alex Upham [Organization for a Free Society]

Clayton Wheeler [Student Socialist Union]

Ian Matchett [Student Socialist Union, WCAT] 

Occupying the Future of Democracy: Where We Are and Where We’re Going

Sara Feldman [UM Graduate Student, WCAT, Occupy UM]
Brendan Flynn [Occupy UM]