[COMM-ORG] An occasional message from Peter Dreier

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Sun Jun 30 10:14:35 CDT 2013

[ed: community organizing fans see especially "Seize the Mortgages, Save 
the Neighborhood".]

From: Peter Dreier <dreier at oxy.edu>


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

An occasional message from Peter Dreier

If you know other people who would like to receive my blog, including 
articles by me and others, videos, calls-to-action, etc, let me know via 
email. (dreier at oxy.edu (mailto:dreier at oxy.edu) ). If you'd like to 
unsubscribe, let me know that, too. I generally send these out about 
once a month, but sometimes (like this week) more often.

* "Obama Embraces Divestment Movement: From Apartheid to Climate Change" 
-- In his speech on climate change at Georgetown University on Tuesday, 
Obama encouraged students to utilize divestment as a strategy for 
pressuring corporations to act more responsibly toward the environment. 
Then on Thursday, at a press conference in Senegal, Obama recalled his 
involvement in the anti-apartheid movement while he was a student at 
Occidental College. My article in today's Huffington Post links Obama’s 
student activism at Oxy with the current campus movement (started by 
Bill McKibben and led by the 350.org group) to get universities to 
divest from companies that promote fossil fuels. The latter movement is 
modeled on the anti-apartheid crusade of the 1980s. It was also exciting 
to see Obama give a shout-out to the current generation of campus 
activists who are pushing their colleges and universities to
sell their stock in the 200 largest corporations involved in the fossil 
fuels industry. The 1980s divestment movement helped bring down South 
Africa's apartheid government.

* "The Unfinished March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" 
-- As Greg Kaufmann reminds us in The Nation, the 1963 March on 
Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place 50 years ago in August. A new 
report (http://www.epi.org/publication/unfinished-march-overview/) from 
the Economic Policy Institute, “The Unfinished March—An Overview,” 
offers a compelling look at the economic vision that was laid out on 
that day and has since been forgotten. It also examines the continuing 
struggle to achieve that vision. Half of all jobs in the U.S. pay less 
than $34,000 a year. This is why we need a strong labor movement -- and 
a minimum wage that lifts people out of poverty!

* "CEOs Made 272 Times More Than Workers in 2012" - 
- In a new report, the Economic Policy Institute reveals that CEO pay 
rose 12.7 percent in 2012 — lifting the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio 
to 272.9-to-1. The average compensation for U.S. CEOs was $14.1 million 
in 2012.

* "Two American Families" 
(http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/two-american-families/) -- If 
you want to understand how widening inequality impacts the everyday 
lives of Americans, watch Bill Moyers' upcoming (July 9) PBS Frontline 
documentary, featuring two hard-working Milwaukee families whose stories 
of economic hardship and perseverance Bill has been chronicling since 1992.

* "Seize the Mortgages, Save the Neighborhood" 
-- Bob Kuttner's op-ed in the Los Angeles Times describes the most 
exciting community organizing movement in many years -- and it is 
driving Wall Street up the wall! Mark my words - this campaign by 
community groups, unions, and local governments to fix the subprime 
mortgage mess and help "underwater" homeowners will ripple across the 
country. I'm proud to be working with SEIU and the Alliance of 
Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) on this campaign.

* Fighting Slumlords -- Bravo to SAJE (Strategic Actions for a Just 
). They are organizing tenants against one of LA's most notorious 
slumlords. He owns more than 250 residential rental properties. One of 
my students is working on this campaign and has described outrageous 
health and safety hazards in his buildings. The slumlord is trying to 
intimidate the tenants with threatening letters. The tenants are 
standing strong and moving forward with their fight for their right to 
healthy affordable housing. Stay tuned for an upcoming protest action!

* "Student Loan Disaster Warning" 
-- Student debt is crushing working class and middle class families. It 
is also one of the major causes of home foreclosures, forcing many 
families to choose between paying tuition or paying the mortgage. 
Senator Bernie Sanders, as usual, has a plan to fix it. But we also need 
a grassroots student movement to protest the cost of tuition, rising 
debt, and Congress' failure to make college more accessible to 
low-income and middle class students.

* "What the Fisher Decision Ignores: 'Diversity' Should Not Replace 
Integration as Our Goal" 
(http://www.epi.org/blog/fisher-decision-ignores-diversity-replace/) - 
Richard Rothstein weighs in on the Supreme Court and affirmative action. 
Affirmative action was designed to overcome the legacy of segregation, 
not just to promote "diversity."

* "Corporate Education From Above and the Problem with Common Core" 
(http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/06/26-2) -- Rethinking Schools, a 
great source of innovative ideas, criticizes the latest corporate 
version of school "reform" -- the so-called Common Core standards -- and 
explains why it exacerbates existing inequalities

* "Labor: Building a New Future" - 
(http://www.democracyjournal.org/29/labor-building-a-new-future.php) - 
SEIU's David Rolf on what the labor movement needs to do to restore its 
influence to promote fairness, equality, and justice.

* “25 Ideas for Eric Garcetti” 
– The always-provocative Frying Pan News website asked me to formulate 
policy ideas for LA’s new (as of July 1) Mayor Eric Garcetti. (This was 
reposted on Huffington Post). Eric has enormous potential to be an 
outstanding mayor. He has a remarkable range of talents and a 
progressive soul. He just appointed Ana Guerrero – a former community 
organizer and an incredible dynamo – as his chief of staff, so he’s off 
to a great start.

* “On Same-Sex Marriage, the Supreme Court Chose States’ Rights Over 
Equal Rights.” 
In its two rulings this week on same-sex marriage, the Court left it up 
to states to decide whether gay Americans have the right to marry. As I 
explain in the Huffington Post, this is a far cry from the bold stance 
that the Supreme Court took in 1967, when it struck down state laws that 
banned marriage between blacks and white. In that ruling, Loving v 
Virginia, the Warren Court proclaimed that blacks and whites were 
equally protected by the Constitution, no matter where they lived. But 
yesterday, a cautious and conservative Supreme Court ruled that every 
state can decide for itself whether gays and heterosexuals have equal 
rights. This, by the way, is the same logic that the Court used this 
week to strike down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act. There's no 
doubt that in the near future, gay
activists and their straight allies will persuade many states to 
overturn laws than ban same-sex marriage, but the fact that they will 
have to do so on a state-by-state basis (and that some states will 
resist) reflects the Robert Supreme Court's essential conservatism.

* “Americans Deserve a Big Raise” 
- June 25 was the 75th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act that 
created the minimum wage in 1938. But Congress has not allowed the 
minimum wage to keep up with inflation and worker productivity. For all 
those 75 years, business lobby groups have warned that the minimum wage 
will destroy freedom, the economy, jobs, and employees’ incentive to 
work hard. As Donald Cohen and I point out in the Huffington Post, these 
arguments are bogus. The vast majority of Americans think that the 
minimum wage should be raised to above the poverty level – over 
$10/hour. Some members of Congress have proposed raising it to 
$10.50/hour, which would be the equivalent (in purchasing power) of 
where it was in 1968. Senator Elizabeth Warren has pointed out that if 
the minimum wage kept up with worker productivity since 1960, it would 
now be almost $22/hour!!
President Obama has proposed a modest increase to $9/hour. It is time 
for Congress to give the poorest-paid Americans a big raise! In an 
article for Bloomberg News, "The Capitalist's Case for a $15 Minimum 
Nick Hanauer points out that the minimum wage is good for the economy 
and for business.

* Reality Check -- On July 1, the Australian minimum wage increases from 
$15.96 an hour (the equivalent of $14.76 in US dollars) to $16.37 an 
hour (equal to $15.15 in US dollars). Australian employers must pay 9% 
on all wages (with no upper l...imit) into the country's retirement 
plan, above and beyond each employee's take-home pay. (Employer 
contributions are set to rise to 12 percent by 2020.) Australia hasn't 
had a serious recession in 28 years. Do you think there’s something the 
US can learn from down under? This article by Catherine Baab-Muguira in 
Daily Finance, "Want a Comfortable Retirement? Move to Australia," 
explains how they do it. And check out this hilarious two-minute video 
about the important contributions that unions make to Australian 
prosperity and livability -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=184NTV2CE_c

* "Goodbye to the Crown Jewel of the Civil Rights Movement" 
-- As Heather Gerken reports on Slate, people died to pass Section 5 of 
the Voting Rights Act, but that didn’t save it at the Supreme Court. In 
The Court, the Corporate Coup, and the Call to Struggle 
, written for the Campaign for America's Future, Richard Eskow say that 
the Supreme Court's ruling, "caps the Court’s clean sweep on behalf of 
the United States Chamber of Commerce and is part of a concerted effort 
to seize democracy on behalf of moneyed interests." In his Huffington 
Post article 
, Mitchell Bard also got it right. This ruling is a victory for business 
conservatives who want to make it
harder for liberals and progressives to win elections. One of the 
victims of the ruling may be Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D), the 
courageous legislator who this week captivated the country with her 
attempted 13-hour filibuster of a sweeping anti-abortion bill. Davis' 
legislative seat was saved by the Voting Rights Act 
. In 2011, Republican leaders in Texas tried to slice up Davis' Fort 
Worth district and move thousands of Black and Latino voters into 
neighboring districts. She probably would have lost her seat in 2012 if 
that ploy had worked. But Davis successfully challenged that effort in 
federal court under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Now the Supreme 
Court has gutted that part of the law, leaving Davis (and other Texas 
Democratic legislators) vulnerable. The Supreme Court essentially told 
states that they can now discriminate by redrawing legislative districts 
and enact
laws making it more difficult to vote.

The opinions expressed are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of 
Occidental College or its employees. Occidental College is not 
responsible for the content of this communication.
The opinions expressed are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of 
Occidental College or its employees. Occidental College is not 
responsible for the content of this communication.
The opinions expressed are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of 
Occidental College or its employees. Occidental College is not 
responsible for the content of this communication.

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