Virginia Organizing hosted a gathering in Harrisonburg over Memorial Day weekend to bring together leaders from Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Washington, D.C. to develop plans to protect and strengthen Social Security.
Virginia Organizing Treasurer Jay Johnson helped lead the events of the weekend. Johnson said, “It was great to meet with other people from this region to strategize how to build power and make sure Social Security is not only protected, but also made stronger, for generations to come.”
Over the weekend, the group discussed ways to improve Social Security without cutting benefits or changing the way that cost of living adjustments are made.
“Virginia Organizing wants Congress to ‘Scrap the Cap’ on Social Security taxes to make sure those who earn more than $117,000 are paying into Social Security based on their actual earnings, not just the first part of their income,” said Johnson. “We also support providing a caregiver credit to ensure that those who take time off work to care for a loved one aren’t penalized for this in Social Security earning calculations.”
Virginia Organizing has repeatedly requested commitments from U.S. Senator Mark Warner to protect and strengthen the program and protect those receiving Social Security from any cuts.
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.
The 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. We 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.)
Throughout 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
SE Grassroots Ambassadors gathering – video recap
This is a presentation from the SE Regional Grassroots Ambassadors Meeting held in Raleigh, NC, June 21-23, 2013. Groups participating included the Federation of Child Care Providers Alabama (FOCAL), the Federation of Southern Coops (FOSC), Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI), North Carolina Fair Share CDC, and the Welfare Rights Organization (WRO- Louisiana).