‘Tis the season to be jolly. Or maybe not so much.
Despite the fact that the unemployment rate has dropped to 7%, there are still millions facing financial hardships during this holiday season. From picking up food items at the local food bank to relying on Toys for Tots to provide that single gift to their child, American families are still hurting. Not to mention the 11 million undocumented Americans living each day in an emotional limbo due to their pending statuses, and the 18 million Americans hoping for a hike in the federal minimum wage to provide them with more purchasing power and security.
But, if you’ve read any of my previous posts, where there is anger there is hope and courage. Many of our PAC+ members are part of that hope and courage, and this blog post is dedicated to sharing with the entire PAC+ family the work they are doing across the country to make sure this season is full of cheer and, of course, impactful social justice change.
Santa’s Movers and Shakers
Santa may have workshop elves to help with making toys for all the little boys and girls around the world, but have you met some of Santa’s movers and shakers?
1. Jobs with Justice and UFCW – Making Change at Walmart Campaign, and Our Walmart Campaign
While we were eating our Thanksgiving feasts a few weeks ago, organizations like Jobs with Justice and the United Food and Commercial Workers were minutes away from launching mass demonstrations around the country to protest the work conditions of Walmart associates. Hundreds of associates, family members, friends, and community supporters protested at 1,500 Walmart locations on Black Friday, and even were arrested. Their fight – to make sure Walmart provides more for their employees.
With Walmart averaging $1.8 million in profit every hour, you would think they would be able (and willing) to provide their employees above-average benefits. This is not the case. Instead Walmart is the standard which other businesses are looking up to – cutting costs by cutting employee benefits and wages. Unacceptable. So instead of enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday indoors, brave souls (including Jobs With Justice Midwest Field Organizer and PAC+ Board Member Carlos Jimenez) stood out in the cold adding pressure on Walmart to change its employment model.
2. Affordable Care Act
Though conservatives continue to hinder our nation’s progress by stonewalling implementation of ACA throughout the nation, others have been working diligently and tirelessly to get Americans covered. People like Maria Gomez, President and CEO of Mary’s Center, and Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. Both of these amazing women are also PAC+ Board Members.
- The Mary’s Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center in Washington D.C., provides DC metropolitan residents with health care services, social services, and educational services. Recently Mary’s Center received financial support of federal and local grants. With it, the center began helping uninsured DC and Maryland residents enroll in health insurance.
- When PAC+ began, we highlighted Georgia for its potential to undergo significant political change based on the ever-so-growing demographics and state’s leadership. That state leadership is Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. She relentlessly fights back against Republicans who continue to block ACA implementation. With Republicans wanting Georgia to be their shining example of failure, Stacey is working to make Georgia the opposite – a shining example of success.
3. Fast for Families
How far would you go to make sure immigration reform passes? Far enough to fast for a day, a week? How about 22 days. Now, that is fierce.
Last week, Eliseo Medina of SEIU, Dae Joong Yoon of NAKASEC in Los Angeles, Cristian Avila of Mi Familia Vota in Arizona, and Lisa Sharon Harper of Sojourners in Washington D.C. ended their 22-day fast for immigration reform – passing the torch to Congress members, allies, and supporters to carry on the fast until fair immigration reform is passed. With each passing day, people across the nation were fasting in solidarity, to ensure their 11 million brothers and sisters are no longer waiting in the shadows (you can read PAC+ Board Member Miguel Gonzalez’s story here).
Headquartered in a community tent on 3rd and Jefferson on the National Mall, fasters were visited by community supporters, faith leaders, artists, members of Congress, and even President Obama himself. In just 30 days, the fasters have been able to keep immigration reform from dying; reinvigorating some of immigration’s strongest proponents in Congress to continue fighting.
Be Good, Do Good
These are only a few of the shining examples of work happening around the nation to ensure a jolly season and happy New Year. I know there are many stories to tell – stories that include more of our PAC+ family – and I wish I could write about all of them, but I do want to say that we at PAC+ thank you. Thank you for raging against the machine and doing amazing, impactful, and historic work. We look forward to the coming new year in which we as the Progressive Movement will continue to move closer to true equality and justice for all.
‘Tis the season to be…