Weekend Reading List

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

For this weekend’s reading list, we have an article about the link between the decline of labor unions and increase in economic inequality, discussions about how progressives need to be more effective in recognizing who their political friends and enemies are even when their friends have to make compromises, and a status report on the Supreme Court over the next couple of years.

If you have any feedback on these articles, or would like to recommend an article for next weekend’s reading list, please let us know at Winning Progressive’s Facebook page

Labor’s Decline and Wage Inequality - an article about a new study documenting the connection between the decline of private sector labor unions and the increase in economic inequality in America

On Peter Daou’s Analysis – a blog post from Booman Tribune about how we progressive activists need to be more effective in advocating our positions even while understanding the political limits faced by President Obama and Democrats in Congress.  In a similar vein, we’d also recommend Booman’s post Know Your Enemies.

Getting Tough is Harder Than It Looks – a blog post from Kevin Drum about how President Obama’s compromising approach, while frustrating for we progressives, has gotten far more achieved than a more aggressively partisan approach would have.   

The Supreme Court’s Painful Season – an overview of the series of high profile issues that the Supreme Court will hear over the next couple of years, and a description of how Justices Sotomayor and Kagan are becoming an effective progressive duo on the Court.

We Are One – Honor Dr. King’s Legacy By Fighting For Working People

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

On April 4, 1968, our country lost one of the greatest Americans to have lived – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Dr. King spent his life fighting for social justice, non-violence, equality, and human rights.  He was assassinated in Memphis, where he had traveled to support sanitation workers who had been on strike for nearly two months demanding safer working conditions and the right to join AFSCME Union Local 1733.  Twelve days after Dr. King’s death, the city of Memphis gave in and agreed to a settlement with the sanitation workers that included recognition of the union and a wage increase of 15 cents per hour.

Forty-three years later, the right of workers to collectively bargain that those 1,300 Memphis sanitation workers, Dr. King, and millions of others fought so hard for is under attack.  Bankrolled by the Koch brothers and other billionaires and corporate interests, Republican politicians in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and other states throughout the country are attempting to push through a radical agenda that would deny workers the right to collectively bargain over their wages, benefits, and working conditions.

As we mark the forty third anniversary of the death of Dr. King, let’s all honor the legacy of Dr. King by getting involved in the growing movement of union members, human rights activists, environmentalists, and other progressives who are fighting back against the conservative attack on working people.   One way to do so is to attend one of the hundreds of We Are One rallies and events occurring throughout the country on or around April 4, which are designed to demonstrate the public’s support for the rights of working Americans to fair wages, good benefits, safe working conditions, and the right to collectively bargain.   To find a rally near you, go to this link and enter your zip code.  By attending one of these rallies, you can help show that while the conservatives may have the money and the media, we progressives have the people on our side.

If you cannot make a rally on April 4, please help make your voice heard in support of working Americans and the legacy of Dr. King by contacting your state legislators and Governors, and by writing a letter to your local newspaper editor.  Here are links for submitting letters to the editor for national papers, and to newspapers in Colorado, Connecticut, DelawareIllinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

The Fight For Working People Goes National

Monday, March 14th, 2011

While what little coverage the conservative media provides portrays the assault on working people as being focused primarily in Wisconsin and Ohio, the reality is that the battle is a national one.  Fortunately, this assault has triggered a movement by progressives throughout the nation to fight back.  With Defend the American Dream rallies happening throughout the country, Tuesday provides yet another opportunity for all of us to get involved in a fight we are winning.

The states colored in yellow on the map above from Maddow Blog are states in which legislation is pending that would undermine the rights of workers to collectively bargain over the wages, benefits, and working conditions.   Further details on these and other attacks on workers are provided in this AFL-CIO article, which notes that:

* So-called right to work bills have been introduced in more than a dozen states, including Indiana (temporarily off the table), Maine, Michigan and Pennsylvania with Republican legislatures and governors.

* Bills attacking immigrant workers’ rights and immigrant children’s education, including many patterned after Arizona’s anti-immigrant law passed last year, have been or will soon be introduced in some 30 states, half of which are Republican controlled.

* Paycheck deception bills that would silence workers’ voices in the election process have been or soon will be introduced in nearly two dozen states, including 15 where Republicans control the legislature and hold the governor’s office, including Florida where the bill was approved by a Senate committee this morning.

* Prevailing wage laws protect communities and workers from unscrupulous contractors low-balling bids on taxpayer-funded construction projects by setting wage rates to the local or prevailing standard. Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), with the support of construction industry CEOs, vows to eliminate Ohio’s prevailing wage law, and legislation has been or will soon be introduced in 19 states, including  nine with dual Republican control.

* In 22 states—12 with Republican governors and legislatures—moves are under way to eliminate Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) that would hurt communities, workers and small businesses by lowering wages.

* Public school teachers and employees are fighting back against assaults in more than a dozen states, including some so-called “education reform” proposals that are thinly veiled attacks on teachers’ rights and privatization schemes.

The good news is that this conservative attack has mobilized a major progressive push back.   There have now been 27 straight days of protests in Madison with hundreds to tens of thousands of people rallying in support of working people.  The rally this past Saturday had at least 85,000 people at it (see pictures here), which is larger than any teabagger rally to date.  In the far northern Wisconsin town of Washburn, population 2,271, as many as 5,000 people showed up to protest Gov. Walker when he visited the town recently.  Meanwhile, in Iowa, state Republicans were so scared of public outcry that they shut off the switchboard for the state House on the day they were voting on anti-worker legislation.

The progressive movement in favor of working people continues on Tuesday, March 15 with Defend the American Dream rallies being held in at least 267 communities throughout the country.   Go here to find a rally near you so that we can continue to make our progressive voices heard and fight back against the Koch-funded conservative attack on working people.  So that more people can attend, many of the rallies are scheduled for late afternoon to early evening.

If you cannot attend a rally on Tuesday, two other ways to make your voice heard are to:

* Contact your state legislators and Governors

* Write a letter to your local newspaper.  Here are links for submitting letters to the editor for national papers, and to newspapers in Colorado, Connecticut, DelawareIllinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

If you attend a rally or send a letter to the editor, let us know at the Winning Progressive Facebook page so that we can inspire others to take action.


Weekend Reading List

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

For this weekend’s somewhat late reading list, we have articles about the role of the Koch Brothers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in stopping Congress from addressing climate change, an anti-regulatory power grab and a proposed 50% cut in state funding to public universities by Pennsylvania’s Republican Governor,  how conservatives lied and schemed to launch their attack on public employees and their unions in Wisconsin, and a letter from a Wisconsin teacher to Gov. Walker about that attack.

If you have any feedback on these articles, or suggestions for next weekend’s reading list, please let us know at Winning Progressive’s Facebook page.

Why Doesn’t Congress Give a Damn About Climate?  Hint It’s Not the Messaging - Bill McKibben’s essay at Grist.org arguing that Congress is failing to act on climate change not because of a problem with environmentalists’ messaging, but instead because the environmentalist message is being overwhelmed by money from the Koch Brothers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

PA Governor Gives Energy Executive Supreme Authority Over Environmental Permitting - a ProPublica report on how Pennsylvania’s Republican Governor Tom Corbett has given C. Alan Walker, the new head of the Department of Community and Economic Development, carte blanche authority to expedite the issuance of any permit application pending in any agency in the state.  Mr. Walker is the owner of a coal mining company, has ownership interests in trucking and oil and gas companies, and donated $184,000 to Gov. Corbett’s campaign.

In Pennsylvania, Campus Leaders Prepare to Trim Budgets as They Fight Governor’s Proposed Cuts – an article from Jeffrey Selingo at the Chronicle of Higher Education about how Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has proposed a 50% cut in state funding to public colleges and universities.  At the same time, Gov. Corbett is refusing to tax the rapidly growing Marcellus Shale natural gas industry in the state.

A Blueprint for a Takeover: Wisconsin Republicans Lied While the Kochs Schemed – A report by Abe Sauer at The Awl about how Republican candidates in Wisconsin lied to voters about their support for collective bargaining even while conservatives were scheming with the Koch Brothers to launch an attack on collective bargaining.

The Letter That Started It All – a letter from Wisconsin teacher Eric Brehm to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker about Walker’s attack on public employees and their unions.  Public response to the letter helped lead Mr. Brehm to start the new blog Bang the Buckets, which is aimed at helping make sure that we keep “banging on buckets” so that our elected officials respond to the will of the people, not the will of rich donors.

Thank You to the Wisconsin Fab 14

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

We here at Winning Progressive would like to add our thanks to the Wisconsin Fab 14 – the 14 Democratic state senators who left their families, friends, and homes for more than three weeks in an effort to stop Gov. Scott Walker’s attack on working people.  While the Fab 14 returned home today unsuccessful in the immediate battle, their actions have reinvigorated the labor movement, motivated Democrats, and inspired a strong progressive movement to fight for the interests of working people throughout the country.  As just one example, more than 85,000 people showed up in Madison on Saturday to rally in support of public employees and their unions.

The best way to thank the Fab 14 is to get involved in keeping this awakened progressive movement organized and growing.  Help out by:

* Contacting your state legislators and Governors

* Writing a letter to your local newspaper editor:

Here are links for submitting letters to the editor for national papers, and to newspapers in Colorado, Connecticut, DelawareIllinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin

* Support the effort to recall eight Republicans Senators who support Walker’s anti-labor legislation.  Democrats need to pick up only three seats to gain a majority in the state Senate.

As always, if you have any feedback on this post, let us know at Winning Progressive’s Facebook page.

A Reason to Celebrate, a Reason To Fight, and a Reason to Hope

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

For progressives, yesterday brought a victory to celebrate, a reason to fight back, and a potential Congressional candidate to mobilize in support of.  Let’s make our progressive voices heard on each of these developments.

CELEBRATE VICTORY

Progressives in Illinois achieved a major victory on Wednesday when Illinois’ Democratic Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation making Illinois the 16th state to abolish the death penalty.  As we’ve explained previously, the death penalty is an ineffective, biased, costly, and barbaric practice that does little to keep society safe.  Let’s thank Governor Quinn for standing up for a fair and effective criminal justice system by contacting him online or by phone at 217-782-0244 or 312-814-2121.

FIGHT BACK

Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate on Wednesday passed Gov. Walker’s attack on public employees and their unions, contradicting their previous claims that such legislation was budgetary in nature, which would require that the 14 Democratic state Senators be present to provide a quorum.  This legislation would end the right of public employees to collectively bargain over their wages, benefits, and working conditions, and is simply one part of a concerted, Koch-funded attack on working people throughout the country.

For the past three weeks, Gov. Walker’s actions have sparked a major outcry from progressives throughout the country.  Now is the time to ramp up these efforts even more.  Here are ways to get involved:

* Contact Wisconsin state legislators

* Write a letter to a Wisconsin newspaper - links available here

* Support the effort to recall eight Republicans Senators who support Walker’s anti-labor legislation.  Democrats need to pick up only three seats to gain a majority in the state Senate. 

* Attend a Rally:

Here is a list of rallies occurring in Madison, Milwaukee, and numerous state Senate districts over the next few days.

REASON FOR HOPE

One important way to increase progressive political strength is to support strong progressive candidates in Democratic primaries. Voters in Illinois’ 10th Congressional District (which is in the far North Shore suburbs of Chicago) may have a chance to do so next year, as a true progressive named Ilya Sheyman has formed an exploratory committee to decide whether he is going to run for Congress in 2012.  Mr. Sheyman is a first-generation immigrant and a community organizer who has worked for Democracy for America, MoveOn.org, and in Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate office.

In reviewing Mr. Sheyman’s website, we were especially impressed that the issues page starts off with this strong support of a Paul Wellstone type vision of progressive politics:

I believe in a simple idea at the heart of progressive politics—an idea best articulated by the late Senator Paul Wellstone:

“Politics is not just about power and money games, politics can be about the improvement of peoples lives, about lessening human suffering in our world and bringing about more peace and more justice.”

We encourage our readers to check our Mr. Sheyman’s website and express your support for this exciting progressive candidate.

As always, if you have any feedback on this post, let us know at Winning Progressive’s Facebook page.