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Healthcare Is a Human Right! The Fight for Universal Healthcare in VT
August 29, 2014 07:44 AM PDT
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Under the current health insurance system, many people are struggling because they do not have access to the health care that they need. The goal of health insurance providers is to maximize profits by charging a lot of money and limiting which services will be covered. With the high costs of health insurance, access to health care is available only to those who can afford it. Insurance also limits the treatments and services that the insurer will pay for, regardless of what type of care is actually needed. For everyone to have access to the care they need when they need it, we must move away from a health insurance market and move toward a universal healthcare system.

Vermont has lead the way for universal healthcare but there is still much left to do. Our health is on the line and those who are profiting from the current health insurance system, such as big private insurance companies. They are going to fight to keep the system as it is, protecting their profits and self interests. But together we can lead the way for universal healthcare and create a system that puts people first. Listen to this episode of Put People First! Radio to find out more!

PSA: May 1st March and Day of Action for Health and Dignity in Vermont
April 07, 2014 11:14 AM PDT
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Many people in Vermont are struggling to meet their fundamental needs and fulfill their human rights; such as housing, healthcare, education, livable wages, and paid sick days. Over the past year, we have seen these needs and rights come under attack. Decisions are being made that will affect our lives for years to come, and we aren’t given a seat at the table.

This May 1st, come out to Montpelier to take part in a “health and dignity” march and day of action. On this day, we will continue to build a movement of people organizing for human rights and real democracy for all people in Vermont. May 1st is a celebration of our families, our communities, and our strength as a people’s movement.

This event is family friendly, and will include music, art, kid friendly activities, and fun!

Join us at the Vermont Statehouse at noon for the march. For more information and to register, go to www.workerscenter.org/may1 or call (802) 861-4892

CCTA Drivers Strike for Fair Contract and Work with Dignity
March 26, 2014 06:07 PM PDT
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On Monday, March 17th, CCTA bus drivers began their strike against unsafe working conditions and predatory management practices, like surveillance and unfair discipline, and the threat of part-time status. Drivers were joined by community members, union members, and many other supporters in an informational picket that demonstrated the strong support for the drivers from members of the community. Jim Foutz, a CCTA driver, spoke about the unsafe and unjust working conditions faced by the drivers and how they are asking for a fair contract that would allow them to work safely and with dignity.
Joshua Chasin, a participant in the rally and social justice leader in the community, spoke about his support for the drivers and about management’s lack of respect for the drivers.
The CCTA drivers will continue their strike until management offers them a fair contract that allows them to have dignified jobs and safe working conditions. In order to ensure that the drivers are given a fair contract, the community must come together to show support for the drivers and to put pressure on management to compromise and meet their demands.

For more information on the strike or to get involved, go to http://support-ccta-drivers.weebly.com/

International Women's Day March PSA
February 19, 2014 12:29 PM PST
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Women hold the majority of low wage, part-time, and temporary jobs, and make up nearly half of the nation’s workforce, yet about half of women continue to be denied crucial rights at work, including essential paid sick days. When women are denied these rights, our communities suffer.

The proposed Earned Sick Days Bill would ensure that all workers in VT are able to take time off when they or a loved one are sick. To support paid sick days is to support women’s rights, work with dignity, and gender equity.

March 8th, International Women’s Day, is a celebration of women organizing for social change and demonstrating their essential roles in society. Join us on this day at noon at Christ Episcopal Church in Montpelier to march on Montpelier for paid sick days for all workers. Following the march, there will be a speakout featuring women leaders in VT’s labor movement and in the community.

Join us on this day to celebrate women’s rights and to ensure that paid sick days be available for all workers in Vermont.

Health and Dignity Day of Action
February 17, 2014 10:52 AM PST
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On Thursday, January 30th, over one hundred people gathered at the statehouse in Montpelier to support passing PSD legislation this year. With this proposed legislation, all workers would get one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked; up to seven sick days per year, which would allow them to take time off without having to lose wages. Many people testified before the House General Committee to share how they’ve struggled without paid sick days and to show legislators why paid sick days for all workers are essential to the health and dignity of all people in Vermont. Others testified in solidarity with the thousands of Vermonters who struggle
each day to meet their fundamental needs and who cannot afford to miss a day of work without pay when they or a loved one get sick.

Many people shared how they struggle to make ends meet working in part-time, full-time, and temporary jobs, and how paid sick days must be available to all workers.

Many business owners also shared why they support PSDs and why PSDs will not only benefit workers but businesses as well.

Jennifer Kimmick, co owner of the Alchemist Pub & Brewery, shared how providing her employees with paid sick time helped her employees and her business.

Paid sick days are a major step toward ensuring that the people of Vermont are treated with dignity at work.Without this legislation, many business owners will continue to prioritize their bottom line over the health needs of their employees. The people of Vermont can’t afford to wait any longer. We must contact our representatives now and let them know we are in support of paid sick days for all workers in Vermont.

Migrant Justice - "Together for Dignity" Day of Action
January 27, 2014 09:18 AM PST
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On Friday January 17th, many people gathered at the DMV in Burlington and Montpelier to stand in solidarity with their immigrant neighbors in getting a driver’s privilege card. Last year, as a result of grassroots organizing across the state, migrant farm workers and allies came together and won the right to drivers licenses for all, regardless of immigration status. In order to make sure the driver’s privilege cards are not an indication of immigration status, allies came together to trade in their licenses for a driver’s privilege card.

Before winning the right to driver’s licenses, thousands of migrant workers in VT were denied their fundamental right to movement. They were often isolated on farms and had to rely on others to access fundamental needs such as food and health care. Standing together in solidarity on MLK weekend, we are reminded that when our communities come together to fight collectively for our rights, anything can be achieved. The driver’s licenses not only give everyone the right to movement, but represent freedom and dignity for all people.

Day 1 - Legislative Kickoff
January 10, 2014 10:58 AM PST
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On Tuesday, January 7th, more than 100 people from across VT packed the statehouse in Montpelier to kick off the 2014 legislative session. The day began with a rally and press conference, lead by leaders of organizations such as Green Mountain Self Advocates, AFSCME, AFT, and the Vermont Workers’ Center, who spoke about winning our human right to dignified work by passing PSD legislation this year.

To kick off the press conference, members delivered over 2,000 PSD petitions to legislators to show the commitment to healthy communities and dignified work and the urgency to pass PSD this year. Along with PSDs, leaders also spoke about supporting VT Early Educators in forming a union, continuing to move forward with universal healthcare in VT, and developing a people’s budget that meets everyone’s fundamental needs.

Following the rally and press conference, Governor Shumlin spoke to the House and Senate Healthcare Committees on how to move forward with universal healthcare in Vermont. Gov Shumlin spoke about the problems with the current insurance marketplace, VT Health Connect, and spoke about how to move forward with VT’s transition to a universal healthcare system, which was passed into law in 2011 after years of grassroots organizing through the HCHR campaign.

The day ended with a People’s Team training. The People’s Team consists of PPF members who sit in on legislative meetings at the statehouse in order to hold government officials accountable for decisions they make that affect the people of Vermont. During the training, members from PPF organizations spoke about the goals for this legislative session, what to expect when sitting in on a legislative meeting, and about what it means to be a member of the People’s Team.

This legislative session, through passing PSD legislation, supporting VT Early Educators in forming a union, developing a people’s budget that meets everyone’s fundamental needs, and continuing to work toward a universal healthcare system, together we will win Health & Dignity for the people of Vermont.

Paid Sick Days Campaign
September 23, 2013 01:15 PM PDT
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Hello and welcome to Put People First Radio! Put People First Radio tells the untold stories of everyday people in Vermont, and reports on their struggles to organize for a government that puts people and the planet first.

In this episode, we’ll hear about the campaign for Paid Sick Days for all workers in Vermont. Stay tuned!

Many people are working to make sure that everyone in Vermont gets paid sick days at work. More than 100,000 workers in Vermont do not receive paid sick days because there is no law mandating that employers provide them. Workers often can not afford to take time off from work to take care of themselves, their children, or a sick loved one, and are forced to go to work anyway in fear of losing their job or a days’ wage. With this proposed legislation, employees get one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked; up to seven sick days per year, which allows them to take time off without having to lose wages. Paid Sick Days are part of a larger effort to protect our human right of dignity at work.

Many Vermont residents have shared their experiences without paid sick days and have expressed why all employees should have them.

Megan Achilles of St. Johnsbury spoke about her experience as a single mother, working in the foodservice industry without paid sick days.

Chris Schroth of Glover, Vermont spoke about how he continued to go to work with a head injury because of his lack of paid sick days as a seasonal worker.

Steph Baldridge of Burlington spoke about the importance of paid sick days for working mothers.

Katina Cummings spoke about having to choose between keeping her job or taking time off work to visit her mother who was ill:

Several business owners have given their support for paid sick leave, expressing the economic benefits this mandate would have for Vermont business owners as well as employees. Randy George and Liza, owners of Red Hen Baking Co. in Middlesex, believe employees and employers both benefit from paid sick leave:

Wes Hamilton, owner of Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier and several other eateries in Vermont, also believes that providing paid sick leave for employees will help Vermont’s economic sector.

The main opposition of the legislation is large businesses and corporations that tend to value high profits over happy, healthy employees. The Colorado chapter of the non-profit organization Winning Justice for Working Women has experienced the shady tactics of big business firsthand when The National Restaurant Association spent large amounts of money to make sure Paid Sick Days were not provided to Colorado employees.

The Paid Sick Days Bill is a major step toward ensuring that the people of Vermont are treated with dignity at work. Not only are paid sick days are essential to the health of our families and our communities, but to our human right to a dignified life. As the fight for paid sick days continues, we must unite as workers and as members of our communities to hold our legislators accountable and demand that they put people first.

For more information or to get involved with the Paid Sick Days Campaign, go to www.workerscenter.org/paidsickdays.

Put People First Radio is a project of the People’s Media Project. For more information, go to www.workerscenter.org/media

Stop Danilo's Deportation!
July 09, 2013 09:07 AM PDT
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On Monday, June 24th, friends and supporters of Danilo Lopez gathered at the Charlotte Congregational Church to hear his story and to take action against his deportation. Many spoke about Danilo’s positive impact on the community and his diligence in fighting for human rights for all.

Danilo was a leader in the passing of S.38, a bill that gives migrant workers the right to drivers licenses, and he has continued to be a human rights leader in the community. Although S.38 marks a tremendous victory, migrant workers continue to face struggles with discrimination, dignity at work, unlawful deportations and many other issues. This event brought awareness to the need for immigration policy reform not only in the state of Vermont but in the nation.

The event closed with support from the audience in the form of petition signatures and videos asking that ICE close Danilo’s case and allow him to stay. Many members of Migrant Justice, and friends and supporters of Danilo continue to fight Danilo’s deportation and the deportation of all migrant workers locally and through the national campaign, Not One More.

F-35 Citizens' Hearing
June 17, 2013 02:36 PM PDT
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On Thursday May 30th, hundreds of Vermont residents participated in a citizens’ hearing surrounding the potential arrival of the F-35 aircraft in Burlington. Immediately after the Burlington airport was chosen as the base for the F-35 aircraft, Vermont residents came together to express their opposition.

Many people expressed their concerns about the noise pollution that the jets would bring to their neighborhoods as well as the enormous costs and technical flaws of the aircraft. If the F-35 aircraft is based in Burlington, over 7,000 lives will be negatively affected.

Many residents also spoke about legislators’ continued support for the F-35 and expressed their concerns about how they were not given the opportunity to take part in a decision that greatly affects them and their neighbors.

Residents at the hearing called for policies that put people first.

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