Grassroots Voices for
Economic Justice

a project of the Center for Community Change Action

TakeAction Minnesota

Ambassadors from Iowa and Minnesota rally on August 14

Ambassadors from Iowa and Minnesota rally on August 14

IMG_1911.JPGOn August 14, 2014, leaders from TakeAction Minnesota and Iowa Citizens for Community Involvement rallied for the 80th anniversary of Social Security. The group took a 75 foot banner through the streets of downtown Minneapolis, handing out flyers and talking to pedestrians about the importance of Social Security and the need for expanding our country’s most effective anti-poverty system.

They stopped outside the Macy’s store for a rally, targeting the corporate retailer because of its past participation in the Fix the Debt coalition, which has called for cuts to Social Security. Four leaders told their stories and called for specific policies that would ensure Social Security is expanded and remains solvent for another 80 years.

Gloria Coles of TakeAction Minnesota calls for caregiver credit:

Bob Robbins from TakeAction Minnesota calls for a new cost of living adjustment formula, the CPI-E:

Vern Tigges tells his Social Security story and calls for expansion:

Cherie Mortice of Iowa CCI calls for Scrapping the Cap and brings the rally home:

LTE from Minnesota Grassroots Ambassador Jon Frasz

LTE from Minnesota Grassroots Ambassador Jon Frasz

From the Northfield News

Put our money where our values are

To the editor:

I hear a lot of talk about family values these days. I believe that we should stand up for families and communities. And, as someone who’s turning 68 this month, I believe strongly in taking care of retired people.

The idea that we should cut or eliminate Social Security and Medicare (as a lot of GOP “candidates” have said) as a “fix” for our economic woes, while allowing trillions of dollars in subsidies to corporations and billionaires, is not what I call “family values.”

Social Security is not broke, there are trillions in the trust fund, including $1.4 trillion that George W. Bush “borrowed” for the Iraq war and subsidy to Big Pharma.

Any potential future shortcoming can be solved by asking people who make $9000 and hour to contribute to the system just like people who make $9 an hour do. If we remove the cap on contributions there will be no problem funding SSR and SSDI (which anyone, any age could need at anytime) for the foreseeable future.

This program has never added one penny to the debt, so to suggest balancing the budget by eliminating it while allowing billionaires and corporations to hide trillions of dollars in offshore tax havens instead of contributing to the health and well being of the country and the people that made them rich is not only bad business, it is downright immoral. It goes against my family values.

My friend’s mom worked her whole life and lost her entire 401k in the S&L scandal. Without her Social Security she would be penniless.

If we really care about family values we will commit ourselves to strengthening and expanding Social Security so that, in a rich country like this one, no one who has worked their entire life will end up living in poverty in their old age.

Do you know someone who depends on Social Security? What would they do without it?

Jon Frasz



Grassroots Ambassador Gloria Coles featured on local newscast

Grassroots Ambassador Gloria Coles featured on local newscast

From Channel 12 News in Minnesota

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


Grassroots Leaders Join Rep. Ellison at Minneapolis Forum on Social Security

Grassroots Leaders Join Rep. Ellison at Minneapolis Forum on Social Security

Congressman Ellison Leads Forum for Local Seniors, Demands Halt on Upcoming Attacks on Social Security
DC Government Shutdown Budget Committee May Propose Harmful ‘Chain-CPI’ for Benefits

Ellison(Minneapolis, MN) – Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-5) joined a coalition of groups united to strengthen and protect Social Security on October 21 at the Golden Valley Seniors Center in Minnesota. The congressman discussed the state of Social Security, its impact on the Minnesota economy and the problems with a chained CPI.

Ilo Madden, a senior leader from the organization TakeAction Minnesota, described her situation of living just above poverty and having to pick between food and drug purchases.

After the failed Republican government shut down, renewed budget discussions in Washington and an expected marginal increase in Social Security COLA’s, local groups in Minnesota are aligning again to stop attempts in Washington to cut these vital earned benefits for children, the disabled and the elderly.

Check out the Minnesota State Report on Social Security’s economic impact.

The event included members of the AARP, Mature Voices of Minnesota, and TakeAction Minnesota.

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


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


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!”



TakeAction Minnesota online action against Fix the Debt

TakeAction Minnesota online action against Fix the Debt

(Here’s the email TAMN sent to their list which – along with the cartoon posted to Facebook – generated thousands of online engagements)


Remember the corporate pirates from Minnesota’s legislative session? They’re back.

Your hard work this spring meant that corporations had to stop dodging taxes in Minnesota to the tune of $400 million.

But on the national level, a group of corporations called Fix the Debt is pushing for major cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. At the same time, the group is filled with CEOs whose companies spend millions of dollars lobbying for corporate tax breaks.

Explain to us again how that would “fix the debt”? 

Seems more than a little hypocritical to us too. We’re working with friends across the country to push for a federal budget that invests in people, not corporate pirates.

Get started by sharing this cartoon and letting your friends know what’s behind Fix the Debt.

Thanks for standing with us,

Terin and the whole TakeAction Minnesota team

Grassroots Ambassadors organize action outside Starbucks corporate headquarters in Seattle

Grassroots Ambassadors organize action outside Starbucks corporate headquarters in Seattle

On June 4 Grassroots Ambassadors from Washington CAN, Montana Organizing Project and TakeAction Minnesota collectively planned and carried out an action at the Starbucks corporate headquarters in downtown Seattle –  protesting against the corporation’s participation in the nefarious Fix the Debt coalition.  Grassroots Ambassadors practiced their “raps” by approaching bystanders and cafe-goers around the plaza in front of the Starbucks building, explaining to them how Starbucks and others were promoting austerity through Fix the Debt, and asking them to make phone calls.

IMG_6778 IMG_6777 IMG_6757 IMG_6749