Colorado’s ballot may not break any records for length this year, but working families voters here have a few important issues before them. FRESC joined a coalition in collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to fight back against the Citizens United decision.
Blog & News
To my delight, 2012 has been a great year for understanding the opinions and values of the highly diverse community we call Asian Americans. Finding meaningful data on the opinions of various Asian American communities on civic life and social issues has been difficult if not nearly impossible. Two significant reports released this year changed that. The Pew Research Center and APIA Vote each conducted its own national Asian American survey, polling the largest ethnic groups within the Asian American community in their own languages.
The Chinese Progressive Association (CPA) didn’t set out 35 years ago to do electoral work. But we fought to protect Boston Chinatown from highways, hospitals, and luxury condo developers. As that grassroots organizing led to voter engagement, CPA found that the strongest grassroots organizing needs to encompass methods of struggle at all levels of the system, and that learning to work in the electoral arena is critical to broadening the impact of community organizing.
Diep Tang spent most of last spring in San Jose, California organizing events and registering young Vietnamese voters as part of Working Partnerships USA’s Lead the Vote project.
It was hard but ultimately rewarding work, with Lead the Vote – funded by the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters – surpassing its registration goal of 3,500 new voters on high school and college campuses across the county.
Sean Maher, a navy veteran, began his career like generations of Milwaukee workers –in a metal fabrication factory. In 1998, the rapid collapse of manufacturing led him to the local Laborers Union. Large infrastructure projects, including Miller Park baseball stadium and the Oak Creek Power Plant, provided 10 years of steady employment and the opportunity to hone his skills. In 2009, as the national economy went into a deep recession, construction work in Milwaukee took a nosedive. For over a year, Sean was laid off.
What splashed into view with a flash mob a year ago and ended with 400 port truck drivers walking off the job has written a new chapter in Seattle labor history. Four years of organizing by port drivers and the Seattle Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports (CCSP) came to a head in February 2012 with the biggest port driver walkout in the nation in the past ten years.
(The following opinion piece written by Clare Crawford, executive director of the Center on Policy Initiatives, ran in the San Diego Union-Tribune on July 25, 2012.)
Four times, the city of San Diego has pitted city workers against private companies in a competition for the continued responsibility to provide an essential city service. All four times, the city workers have proved that they – as U-T San Diego put it last week – “provide taxpayers with the best bang for their buck.”
I first met Maura when she was fifteen. Employees at the industrial laundry where her mother worked—and still works—wanted a stronger voice on the job. Maura went with her mother to visit coworkers in their homes, hear their stories, and show support for their efforts to form a union and make their jobs better. “I just told the people we visited that I believe in what she believes in. We talked about people’s rights and I learned a lot.”
In 2010, I asked for Maura's help on an initiative to sign up thousands of voters to vote by mail. Early voting by mail was still relatively new in Arizona, but we wanted to use it to increase voter participation and power among Latino working people.
I was walking down North 37th Street in Milwaukee, in the shadow of the abandoned AO Smith manufacturing plant (that once provided jobs to 10,000 people in this neighborhood). I came across a young couple carrying an infant. They asked if I could help them find their polling place. They had never voted before and had registration identification in hand. They had been walking for half an hour, but were unsure of the exact address. I could do better than point them in the right direction. Since they lived in the neighborhood we were canvassing, I knew exactly where they should vote. I helped them into our van and drove then to the polling place. When we got there, the lines were so long that it took them nearly an hour to vote. But nothing deterred them.