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.
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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.”
Lennise Vickers of Milwaukee was a first time volunteer for the Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund non-partisan voter mobilization program in the 2012 recall election.
“I wanted to volunteer because I wanted to make sure that people in my county and city were able to get out to vote. The experience taking the individuals to the different polling sites was interesting. Each polling site had different circumstances and things going on. I had one individual who needed curbside assistance because they were disabled and couldn’t get into the polling site. It took a while to get someone to come out and help them vote. At another site, there was difficulty parking. But we made it. They were able to vote.
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.
Developing a transit system that serves all members of a community can transform the quality of life and spur renewal. FRESC is working to ensure that a huge investment in a development project will connect working people to good jobs, affordable housing, and healthy communities.
Mile High Connects, formerly the Mile High Transit Opportunity Collaborative, is a partnership of private, philanthropic, and nonprofit organizations committed to developing inclusive, affordable and livable communities within walking distance of public transit. In November 2004, taxpayers in the Denver Metro region voted to invest in a more environmentally friendly and better connected future by passing a sales tax to fund a mass transit expansion known as FasTracks.
How can we build an economy using recycled materials? As we look to find green economy solutions that will reduce waste, can we create a new industry and jobs?
The excitement of this prospect led me to join a tour of a recycling facility last month in a major metropolitan city. I started at the tipping floor outside where dump trucks deposit tons of mixed recyclable materials. Then we walked down the side of the building where the bales of separated materials are stored until they are shipped.
“Diversity” in California’s Santa Clara County – where Working Partnerships USA is located – is not a lightly used term.
For starters, the 1.8 million people who live there at the southern tip of San Francisco Bay would say the word in more than 100 languages and dialects. Almost 60 percent of the county’s children have at least one parent who is an immigrant. Less than 40 percent are non-Hispanic whites.
Yet in a county so diverse, the voting population is still relatively homogenous, with young people and immigrant communities identified by the county’s Registrar of Voters as comprising a smaller proportion of voters than are eligible to vote.
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.