Grassroots Voices for
Economic Justice

a project of the Center for Community Change Action

Ohio Organizing Collaborative

OOC launches “Families First: A Guide to Talking with Ohioans about the Economy”

OOC launches “Families First: A Guide to Talking with Ohioans about the Economy”

On May 11, 75 leaders and allies of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative in Columbus  to launch Families First: A Guide to Talking with Ohioans about the Economy. The guide offers a comprehensive economic justice agenda written and produced by leaders of the OOC in collaboration with Policy Matters Ohio, Progress Ohio, Innovation Ohio and the Center for Community Change. Labor partners from across the state were also present including the Communications Workers of America, the Ironworkers, AFSCME, UFCW local 75, SEIU Local 1 and 1199 as well as America Votes, Field Strategies and State Rep Kathleen Clyde.

The document gives a realistic, if sobering, snapshot of the economic reality facing Ohio’s working families where the minimum wage stagnant, and there is racialized economic injustice. Families First is a document of hope that lays out a comprehensive economic justice agenda for the state deeply aligned with CCC’s Putting Families First campaign. Families First is also anchored in CCC’s breakthrough messaging research teaching leaders how to talk about an economic justice agenda with everyday Ohioans in way that creates energy and action, grounding our state allies in how to lead with values, emphasize the ends, focus on lived experience, link the problem to the solution and naming the causes. Families First advocates an agenda for all Ohio families that includes raising the minimum wage, support for a fair earned sick day policy, support for affordable child care and early childhood education, environmental justice as well as a call to end mass incarceration and unfair burdens and discrimination faced by the formerly incarcerated. You can find link to the guide here.

MVOC and allies present “thank you” card to Sen. Brown

MVOC and allies present “thank you” card to Sen. Brown

20140529_102520_resizedMembers of Alliance for Senior Action and Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative Grassroots Ambassadors  presented Senator Sherrod Brown with a beautiful card and portrait thanking him for all his work to protect and enchance Social Security, fighting for seniors, veterans, jobs and Ohio families.

Ambassadors also thanked him for speaking about caregivers during a recent hearing. He responded “they are a natural part of this”.

The event took place at the Struthers VFW near Youngstown and was for Veterans who have PTSD. A couple of the MVOC leaders talked with some of the Vets and strongly believe that there are connections to caregiving.

20140529_102531_resized 20140529_104109_resized

 

OOC meets with Senator Brown

OOC meets with Senator Brown

OOC’s retirement security grassroots ambassadors met with their Senator Sherrod Brown in DC on December 11th, thanking him for championing Social Security and working on the OOC around long term care issues.  Senator Brown has supported the increase of retirement benefits and the Strengthening Social Security Act.  The OOC looks forward to continuing the strong partnership with Senator Brown on our Caring Across Generations Campaign and Retirement Security work.

Groups from across US participate in successful Retirement Security convening

Groups from across US participate in successful Retirement Security convening

From December 9-11 nearly 90 people — primarily grassroots leaders but also staff from CCC and partner organizations — came together in Washington DC to advance our retirement security campaign.  Approximately 20 organizations from 16 states took part in the national convening which included some dynamic panel discussions, multiple protest actions, a press conference with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and a meeting with one of our biggest Social Security champions, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.  In addition to the many state-based organizations — from Washington CAN in the Northwest to the Federation of Child Care Centers of Alabama in the Southeast — seven leaders from the Manufactured Homeowner project also participated in the training, coming from Utah, Pennsylvania and Florida.

RS Meeting 1The gathering kicked off on Monday night with an exercise led by Akiba Bird, director of North Carolina Fair Share, that included drumming and chants and allowed participants to get to know each other and our shared values.  We were then joined by Sarita Gupta, the ED of Jobs with Justice and a leader of the Caring Across Generations campaign, who talked about ways to better connect our respective struggles.

The next morning, it was the Grassroots Ambassadors themselves who took center stage, speaking at two separate panels about the successes and challenges over the course of the 2013 campaign to strengthen Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  IMG_20131210_094144We were also joined by various leaders from national partner organizations: Alex Lawson of Social Security Works; Terry O’Neil of the National Organization of Women; Maya Rockeymoore of Global Policy Solutions; and John Adler of SEIU.  We wrapped up the day by digging into our 2014 program and strategy and preparing ourselves for the next year of battle.

December 11 was our day to hit the streets. The full group arrived early to the Capital Visitors Center for a meeting with Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio.  It was an opportunity to thank one of the emerging Social Security champions as well as share stories and strategies.  Next up was a protest action outside the office of the think tank Third Way which has been on the attack against Social Security and progressive Democrats like Brown and Elizabeth Warren who have called for expanding the system (watch video of the action here.)

IMG_20131211_145959Throughout the afternoon leaders met with their respective Representatives and Senators on Capital Hill, and the gathering culminated with a successful press conference organized by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.  Members Raul Grijalva, Keith Ellison and Jan Schakowsky stood alongside leaders from Illinois, Washington, North Carolina and Montana to talk about the need to hold the line against cuts to social programs and continue the fight for a better budget deal.  Check out pictures of the press conference as well as the rest of the convening here.

Senator Brown with leaders from Ohio
Senator Brown with leaders from Ohio

 

Ambassadors Juanita James & Gloria Hobbs speak on improving Social Security at event with Sen. Brown

Ambassadors Juanita James & Gloria Hobbs speak on improving Social Security at event with Sen. Brown

from WKBN

Senator proposes Social Security changes

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A Youngstown senior center was the stage Monday on which U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, announced a plan to tweak Social Security.

The bill, dubbed the Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013, would reform the Social Security benefit formula and ensure that Cost of Living Adjustments reflect the living expenses of retirees, among other changes.

Under the bill, anyone who makes more than $110,000 would be required to pay into the system.

“We’re simply saying that everybody should pay the same percent of their income into Social Security regardless if they’re a millionaire or a $30,000-a-year worker in Austintown,” Brown told the crowd at the Senior Independence Senior Center of Mahoning County.

Brown also wants to change the Cost of Living Adjustment (or COLA).

“We’re simply saying calculate the cost of living adjustment based on a 70-year-old’s cost of living, not a 40-year-old’s cost of living,” Brown said.

The change would account for seniors’ rising medical costs, and increase their yearly benefits accordingly instead of reduce them, Brown said.

A recent Associated Press poll shows a majority of older Americans do not want to see the age to receive Social Security go up, and they do not want any changes that would result in a reduction to their benefits.

For Juanita James, the changes would help bring stability to her life.

James said her husband lost his pension after the steel mill he worked at for 36 years closed and filed for bankruptcy.

“Unless they strengthen Social Security and do what’s right, if that day won’t come when we lose our home,” James said.

For more than half of the seniors or retirees here in the Valley and across Ohio, Social Security makes up half of their income.

U.S. Senator campaigns in Youngstown for Social Security bill

U.S. Senator campaigns in Youngstown for Social Security bill

The video includes a clip with Ohio Organizing Collaborative member and Grassroots Ambassador Gloria Hobbs:

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A U.S. Senator campaigned in Youngstown for support of his social security legislation.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, (D – OH) spoke with residents of the Senior Independence Center in Youngstown on Monday.

The Senator is co-sponsoring legislation that would increase benefits and extend the solvency of Social Security.

Brown says a key element to strengthening Social Security is lifting the earnings cap on contributions. “Somebody who is making $200,000 a year, they quit paying into social security in their July paycheck while people making less than that pay into it the entire time. So we’re simply saying that everybody should pay the same percent of their income into social security,” said Sen. Brown.

Brown also is calling for a change in cost of living adjustments to ensure that they adequately reflect the living expenses of senior retirees.

Contact Center and Ohio Organizing Collaborative rally against the shutdown

Contact Center and Ohio Organizing Collaborative rally against the shutdown

Grassroots Ambassadors from the Contact Center and Ohio Organizing Collaborative assembled in Westwood, OH on October 15 to demonstrate and protest the government shutdown.

The picket took place outside Rep. Steve Chabot’s Office headquarters on Tuesday.  Lots of traffic and lots of honks in support.

Picket ChabotSome of our Chants:

We the People
We Count too!
Get the Government working
Shame on You!

Congress!
Stop holdin us hostage
Congress
Stop holdin us hostage!

We’re fed up!
Chabot Get to Work!
We’re fed up!
Chabot Get to Work!

Grassroots Ambassadors from Four States Lead Human Chain with Progressive Caucus

Grassroots Ambassadors from Four States Lead Human Chain with Progressive Caucus

Grassroots Ambassadors from Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, Virginia and Washington DC joined leaders from the Campaign for Community Change, Social Security Works, the Alliance for Retired Americans at the Congressional “Human Chain” against the Chained CPI today. The event was sponsored by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and speakers rallied the crowd in opposition to all attempts to use a manufactured crisis to make cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Representative Keith Ellison, co-chair of the CPC, led the charge: “Folks are scurrying around here, trying to figure out how to end the shutdown. And sometimes I’ve heard [Democrats] say ‘You know, maybe we should give them something… Some folks say ‘We’ll give you Chained-CPI.’”

“No way! No way!” Ellison shouted into the microphones. “Open up the government. Put a clean CR on. Stop this austerity….The way we hang together here is we make sure nobody, but nobody, gets sold out in exchange for Republicans doing their job, which is funding the government.” (See more from the Nation.)

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland spoke strongly for seniors and retirement security: “They give their blood, their sweat, their tears, and they sacrifice and they expect certain things at the end of their retirement. One of the things that definitely expect is to live in dignity.”

Many other members of congress stood with community leaders against cuts to these critical programs. Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL) denounced the chained CPI, listing off all the ways it would hurt families, and later then linked arms with grassroots leaders as part of the human chain across the Capital plaza.

With the U.S. government shutdown, organizers worry that the President and some members of Congress may see this as an opportunity to press ahead with the chained CPI – a cut to Social Security benefits – in order bring about a deal that would re-open the government and avert a crisis around the debt ceiling. Grassroots leaders linked arms with nearly 20 Members of Congress to strongly denounce such a move (for more on what the CPI would do, go to this Social Security Works Fact sheet.)

Watch video of the event:

Illinois Grassroots Leaders with Rep. Jan Schakosky at the rally

Illinois Grassroots Leaders with Rep. Jan Schakosky at the rally

BVqHrgMIEAESRtg.jpg_large

Conyers- “If [Republicans] think they’re going to wear us out on this, they are dead wrong.”

BVqQOzXIMAEu41z.jpg_large

Members of TakeAction Minnesota with Rep. Keith Ellison

Members of TakeAction Minnesota with Rep. Keith Ellison

photo 2

“We are not going to balance the budget on the backs of seniors!”

“We are not going to balance the budget on the backs of seniors!”

chain4

 

Rally at Chicago Macy’s to condemn CEO & “Fix the Debt”

Rally at Chicago Macy’s to condemn CEO & “Fix the Debt”

Nearly 100 people converged on the large Macy’s store in downtown Chicago on July 9 with a message for CEO Terry Lundgren: drop out of the nefarious “Fix the Debt” coalition! Grassroots leaders told personal stories about the need for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while challenging those who seek cuts. The highlight of the action was the “Corporate Shuffle” dance that had leaders of all ages denouncing and shaming Fix the Debt, A group also entered the Macy’s store in an attempt to deliver a letter to Lundgren; they were quickly and forcefully removed, but the message outside could not be ignored (especially since Chicago’s largest local TV stations were there covering the action).

For more information go to http://changeaction.electricembers.net/retirementsec and http://www.seniorcaucus.org and http://www.onenorthside.org.

“Activists chain themselves together”

“Activists chain themselves together”

From WFMJ news

WARREN, Ohio – Activist groups took to the streets to protest a proposal to change the way social security benefits are calculated.

Members of the Alliance for Senior Action and the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative groups chained themselves in front of the Warren Social Security Administration building.

They are protesting a proposal that would ultimately reduce the amount of benefits that people on Social Security receive, like the elderly, and those with disabilities. The groups estimate recipients would see an annual reduction of $1,000 in their benefits.

“They’re making choices between buying food, paying their rent and purchasing their medicine. Where as if they have the ability to get on Medicaid, them they’ll have opportunities for their healthcare costs to be cut,” says Tammy Thomas-Miles of the Mahoning County Organizing Collaborative.

The groups say they’re in favor of Medicaid expansion.

Legislation was introduced earlier this year aimed at ensuring the formula for calculating benefits would accurately reflect the expenses of senior citizens.