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Showing posts with label COMMON DREAMS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label COMMON DREAMS. Show all posts

Monday, November 23, 2015

Voters Reject Oil Titan Chevron, Elect Progressive Bloc in Richmond, California


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Voters Reject Oil Titan Chevron, Elect Progressive Bloc in Richmond, California

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Tom Butt elected mayor and slate of progressive candidates all win city council seats after grim battle with corporate power
Members of the Asia Pacific Environmental Network march against Chevron in Richmond, Califordia on August 9. (Photo: Malena Mayorga/Flickr)
A slew of progressive candidates were elected in Richmond, California on Tuesday night in a resounding defeat of corporate power, after a multi-million-dollar opposition campaign funded by Chevron brought national attention to the race but failed to take control of City Hall.
Local politician Tom Butt, a Democrat, was elected mayor with 51 percent of the vote, beating the Chevron-backed candidate, Nat Bates, by 16 points. Richmond Progressive Alliance representatives Eduardo Martinez, Jovanka Beckles, and outgoing  Mayor Gayle McLaughlin also won three of the four open seats on the City Council.
Collectively, those candidates became known as Team Richmond.
In a victory speech from his campaign base, Butt said, "I’ve never had such a bunch of people who are dedicated and worked so hard. It’s far away above anything that I’ve ever experienced."
The sweeping win in the David-and-Goliath story was seen by many as an excoriation of corporate influence in elections after the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.
Uche Uwahemu, who finished third in the mayoral race, said, "The election was a referendum on Chevron and the people obviously made it clear they did not appreciate the unnecessary spending by Chevron so they took it out on the rest of the candidates."
Chevron spent more than $3 million funding three political action committees that executed an opposition campaign including billboards, flyers, and a mobile screen, spending roughly $72 per voter in hopes of electing a slate of candidates that would be friendly to the oil giant.
Martinez, Beckles, and McLaughlin have all criticized the company and promised to tighten regulations on it. Chevron has an ugly history in the city, particularly in the wake of a large and destructive fire at their refinery in 2012, for which Richmond sued the company.
Butt spent roughly $58,000 on his campaign—a shoestring budget relative to Chevron's resources.

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RootsAction has long been inspired by the multi-racial alliance that successfully challenged the power of Chevron oil company in Richmond, California -- a model for progressive action elsewhere in the country. We hope you'll read the letter below and provide support.

--- The RootsAction.org Team
____________________________

Dear Progressive Friend,

Did you wake up with a heartache the morning after the November 2014 election? Republicans took command of the Senate, added to their majority in the House, and gained state houses and governors' mansions across the country. Hardly surprising, since corporate money now controls our democratic process.

However, in Richmond—a predominantly working-class city of 108,000 across the bay from San Francisco—David defeated Goliath.

Our progressive alliance won. And now you can help us to do it again.

Chevron, the nation's third-largest corporation, owns a huge refinery on the Richmond shoreline, and it's accustomed to getting its hand-picked candidates elected. In a nationally-watched local election, Chevron spent $3 million, roughly $72 per voter, outspending the rest of the candidates 20 to 1.

Nonetheless, the morning after the election, Richmond voters awoke to the best possible news: Chevron's slate was defeated by three city council candidates backed by the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA).

This city council election was anything but a one-shot campaign. For ten years the RPA has been organizing around community needs and electing council members committed to responding to them.

Our candidates called themselves "Team Richmond." They touted the RPA's progressive track record with a simple message—“Richmond is better now”—and the voters agreed. "It's true that big corporations, like Chevron, have lots of money and influence," said former mayor and present city council member Gayle McLaughlin, one of the founders of the RPA. "But that's nothing compared to the power of people when united!"

That power of the people will be needed more than ever as Chevron comes roaring back in an effort to crush our progressive alliance. Please click here now to help us hand Chevron another big defeat!

Chevron is poised to regain control of Richmond city government. It wants a city government that doesn't challenge corporate aims. It hopes to stifle community criticism about refinery pollution, fair taxation, outrageous election spending, and environmental racism.

Our response: Keep organizing! Your donation is critical to this fight.
  • The RPA is an all-volunteer membership organization, but we must pay for our office—a progressive community center—phone, and other expenses.
  • Chevron saturates the community with mass mailings and a local online newspaper, and we need to fight back against their nonstop propaganda. Early next year we will publish theRichmond Sun, a print newspaper devoted to our views on unfair taxes, Chevron's pollution, rent control, and protecting the environment.
  • We'll distribute the Richmond Sun door-to-door and talk with Richmond residents. As we’ve shown in our winning election campaigns, our volunteer outreach gives us the edge over Chevron's money.
The Richmond Progressive Alliance continues to inspire communities across the nation to rise up against corporate control of the democratic process. Help us model how to defeat big money in elections by contributing to our pre-election organizing campaign!

Thanks!

Richmond Progressive Alliance


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Friday, November 13, 2015

Worried TPP Will Hurt Workers? This Case Will Provide Some Clues.


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Worried TPP Will Hurt Workers? This Case Will Provide Some Clues.

"If the administration fails to take strong action, critics will see it as a signal that the U.S. is falling short on linking trade, investment, and labor rights."

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In both Mexico and the United States, Chadraui "has silenced employees' voices and trampled their rights," says UFCW Local 770 president Ricardo Icaza. (Photo: Matthew Rutledge/flickr/cc)
In a development with real implications for the upcoming Congressional debate over the corporate-friendly TransPacific Partnership (TPP), an international coalition of labor and consumer groups on Thursday filed "double-barrel," cross-border complaints to challenge workers' rights abuses by a Mexican retail giant in both the U.S. and Mexico.
Though the complaints are not directly tied to the 12-nation TPP agreement, how the Obama administration responds to them will offer labor and human rights groups a glimpse of its position on labor protections in international trade agreements.
"President Obama is pushing for TPP approval in the face of strong opposition from unions and others who see it as a giveaway to multinational companies that will only intensify inequality and downward pressure on jobs and wages," said University of Maryland international labor law professor Marley Weiss, who was formerly chair of the U.S. National Advisory Committee on the NAFTA labor agreement. "If the administration fails to take strong action in this case, critics will see it as a signal that the United States is falling short on linking trade, investment, and labor rights."
Led by the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 770 (UFCW) union in the U.S. and the Frente Auténtico del Trabajo (FAT) union in Mexico, the coalition is seeking redress from Chedraui Commercial Group under both the NAFTA labor agreement and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines.
Chedraui is Mexico's third-largest retail chain with 35,000 employees in more than 200 stores throughout the country; the corporation also has a majority-stake in the California-based Bodega Latina Corporation, which does business as the El Super grocery chain with 50 supermarkets employing more than 5,000 workers in California, Arizona, and Nevada.
According to UFCW Local 770 president Ricardo Icaza, "in both Mexico and the United States, the company has silenced employees' voices and trampled their rights."
The OECD complaint calls for a halt to El Super's "aggressive, multi-year campaign of coercion against workers seeking a living wage, adequate sick days, and affordable health insurance," while the NAFTA filing alleges that Chedraui has "cultivated dozens of sham unions in Mexico through so-called 'protection contracts' that represent the interests of management, not workers, and prevent the formation of independent unions."
"We believe an international solution is necessary to this international problem," said Icaza.
The coalition says that Thursday's filing is the first time complaints about a company's international labor abuses have been simultaneously submitted under both the OECD and NAFTA complaint mechanisms—an approach organizers believe "will produce results tailored to the situation in each country."
But the impact could go far beyond these specific cases, coming just as debate over the controversial TPP—which has been called "NAFTA on steroids"—intensifies. As the Obama administration tries to push the TPP through Congress, labor groups will be watching its response to these complaints, and if it fails to act, TPP critics will likely see it as proof that the U.S. is failing to protect labor rights within trade agreements.

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