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Partnership Blog & News
Community Development Agreement for Canal Side Project Makes Sense
by Andy Reynolds
Before the Canal Side Development Project is approved, it is critical for the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) to ensure that the massive public investment in the project will be spent in a way that benefits the communities of Buffalo and the region.
The community-labor alliance that is the hallmark of the Partnership for Working Families network has a chance to earn real gains from what is happening in Wisconsin. The question is, what can we do with it?
From the beginning, our partners have played important roles in this effort.
Wisconsin's governor and the legislators who have led the charge to eliminate collective bargaining for public workers have had a consistent message: they are representing everyday people against the overwhelming and unjust might of the unions. It's a classic David v. Goliath narrative, and one that we progressives have seen time and again.
What's amazing about what's playing out here is that Wisconsin voters aren't buying it.
Instead, that David v. Goliath narrative has been flipped on its head.
As for so many Wisconsin households, the proposal to eliminate collective bargaining for public employees would have a direct and immediate negative impact on mine. For ten years my partner has worked for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, where she is a member of AFSCME Local 366. People may feel that they have some understanding of the risks and challenges of being a teacher, a police officer, even a county benefits specialist.
There was much hype in advance of the competing rallies in Madison today. As it happened, 70,000 people turned out - as they have day after day - to oppose the collective bargaining ban, while only about 3,000 tea party supports turned up.
Many of the tea partiers carried signs saying "Pay Your Fair Share," with the implication that public employees don't want to help fix our so-called budget woes.
It's been gratifying to see that people get the real issues here.
While the national health reform debate rages on, a local program to cover the uninsured is now underway in Santa Clara County, California. On March 1, Working Partnerships USA, in partnership with the Santa Clara Family Health Plan and the Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System launched a new health care program for low-wage workers in small businesses called Healthy Workers. The program was developed by the same coalition that created the nation’s first universal health care program for children—the Children’s Health Initiative.
The Syracuse Alliance for a New Economy (SANE) is in the process of seeking a Community Benefits Agreement with the Board of Directors of the Near Westside Iniative, a major economic development project located in Syracuse, New York. The Near Westside Initiative (NSWI) is a $56 million project that will transform one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States (according to the last Census) into a community filled with market-rate condominiums, office buildings and an extension of the development currently taking place in downtown Syracuse. The project has already been jump-started using public dollars, and the NWSI will continue to seek an infusion of public monies to complete this massive project. SANE firmly believes that community residents should have a voice in the planning and development of the project.
Less than three years ago, Pittsburgh UNITED was a small coalition of union, environmental, faith-based and community organizations committed to making change in low-income communities. Today we’re a formidable—and still growing—coalition responsible for winning the first-ever community benefits agreement (CBA) in the City of Pittsburgh, and passage of a law that requires developers who receive City subsidies to create decent, family-sustaining jobs.
Orange County’s history of laissez-faire, anti-immigrant extremism dates back to the 1960s, when groups like the John Birch Society and the Orange County School for Anti-Communism used what we would call community organizing techniques to build a grassroots conservative movement in our region. They held house meetings, gathered in church fellowship halls, and went door to door for Barry Goldwater in 1964. In the process, they launched the pro-business, conservative movement that eventually took over our county.
A recently released LAANE study found that the Century Corridor hotel living wage ordinance, combined with the successful negotiation of collective bargaining agreements at four LAX-adjacent hotels, will produce $23.9 million in economic benefits. In 2006, a coalition of community members, workers and clergy leaders joined together as the Coalition for a New Century in an effort to transform thousands of low-wage hotel jobs into family-sustaining jobs and to upgrade a lackluster L.A. tourism district that is often the first glimpse visitors have of the region.