Wednesday, January 27, 2010
This is an especially hard time to be low-income in America. Decades of globalization-driven outsourcing of reliable blue-collar work has ravished communities across the country. Coupled with the worst recession that America has experienced since the Great Depression, thousands of Americans are struggling to secure sustained and dignified employment. In the midst of this struggle, pollution and unsustainable energy and lifestyle practices are severely impacting the the health of urban communities. Despite the challenges inherent to this crisis, this situation presents opportunities for San Antonio to become a national leader in environmental justice through the creation of green jobs and progressive environmental policies that will work to shrink unemployment, reduce economic disadvantages, and improve community health.
In support of the Southwest Workers' Union, Energy Action Coalition--a national network of youth climate organizers--and Center for Community Change--a national effort to unite low-wage workers in support of an economy that benefits all income brackets--present you with this proposal of practical measures that can transform the Alamo City into a national leader.
I. Recent City Initiatives that We Would Like to Applaud
To begin, we want to acknowledge the noteworthy work that the City has done thus far in relation to environmental and social justice as these actions show the great potential of Mayor Castro and his administration. We commend the city's stance against the economically and environmentally irresponsible expansion of the South Texas Project. We also praise the creation of the Casa Verde program that uses federal stimulus money to weatherize low income communities. The recent opening of the Mission Verde Center at Cooper that serves as a hub for clean energy research and green job training further fuels our belief that the city of San Antonio can become a national leader in creating socially and environmentally just systems. No more important investment could be made in San Antonio than developing solutions for reducing our energy consumption and transitioning to renewable energy sources.
II. Improvements that Need to Be Made
It is crucial to us that sustainability plans meet the considerable energy and economic challenges that residents of San Antonio face. The low income families that make up the heart of our 3,000 person membership are struggling more than anyone to cope with the recession, especially in light of the alarming rate increases from CPS. To that end, SWU, allied grassroots groups, and the national organizations Energy Action Coalition and Center for Community Change call on Mayor Castro to commit to the following:
* Formalization of the vision of Mission Verde, complete with concrete resolutions, laws, etc.
* Establishment of community participation in CPS through a Green Jobs Leadership Council
* Freezing CPS rate hikes until CPS becomes more transparent and redirects its efforts toward progressive energy programs
* Providing vouchers--not rebates--for low-income residents to purchase energy efficient appliances. It is very disappointing to see billboard advertisements on buses for energy efficiency rebate programs for appliances that the bus riders likely cannot afford in the first place.
* Enactment of stricter ozone standards so that San Antonio does not face issues with noncompliance in terms of air quality standards. To make this a reality, New Urbanism planning policies that focus on accessible cities designed for people (not cars) should be enacted. Rather than channeling resources towards assisting low-income persons with maintenance of their sub-standard vehicles, proactive policies that focus on mass transit and walkability should be implemented.
In our conversations with members, SWU has come up with our own plan for local energy policy based on principles of environmental justice. We have already given your office a copy of the People's Power Plan. We are calling on you to actualize the these recommendations and to work with community groups and activists in order to create a future that is both green and just.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
the Hunger Strike Grows in Celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.
FOR IMIMEDIATE RELEASE
January 18, 2010 - “Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.”- MLK, Jr. On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 18, 2010, immigrants at the Port Isabel Detention Center called the South-west Workers’ Union to notify the public that they (70 detainees) were on Indefinite Hunger Strike since Saturday January 16, 2010, the National Day of Action Against Arpaio of Maricopa County, AZ.
Although retaliation of Hunger Strikers is certain, the strike grew yesterday in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dream for a world where Justice and Human Rights for everyone, including immigrants, is possible.
THE REASONS LISTED FOR THE HUNGER STRIKE WERE:
- Solidarity with the People of Haiti in their time of greatest need
- Solidarity with Comprehensive Immigration Reform
- Solidarity with the Fast For Our Families in Miami, Florida and Jean Montrevil and his family in New York
- Solidarity with the March against Sherriff Arpaio and against his abuse of authority and militarization of the US-Mexico border
- Respect Human Rights
THEY CALL FOR:
1. Suspend the detention and deportation of immigrants with U.S. citizen children, spouses, and immigrant students until there is resolution on the passage of comprehensive immigration reform;
2. Work permits for immigrants with U.S. citizen children and spouses whose detention and deportation have been suspended until there is resolution in Congress on the passage of immigration reform;
3. Creation of an honest, transparent process by which the best interests of communities, families, and chil-dren are weighed before detaining and deporting any individual
4. The right to Due Process
5. End the abuse of Human Rights in detention (lack of medical access, indefinite detention, inadequate food, physical and verbal abuse)
6. End the unjust deportation
7. End raids on immigrant communities
They released their statement by calling Southwest Workers’ Union to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. The Dream Dr. King had begins with breaking the silence. Because as Dr. King said, “there comes a time when silence is also a betrayal.” According to detainees their struggle is the same as all the immigrants and people.
For more information call:
Southwest Workers Union- Rio Grade Valley
Sunday, January 17, 2010
The federal government is gearing up for the 2010 census this spring, when it will attempt to count every person in the United States. An accurate count is important to secure a fair distribution of resources for things like schools, Head Start programs, hospitals/clinics, road improvements and other infrastructure and for a fair representation by elected officials.
Low-income working families, people of color and immigrant communities are all historically under counted in the census. We need to ensure that these hard to count areas are completely counted. To that end Southwest Workers Union is holding an art contest to get the word out about the census and the need to Count us Right – Cuéntanos Bien.
Submissions accepted in 3 categories: Professional – College – High School
Grandprize Winner - $1000. (Will be used for promotional material)
Professional Winner - $400.
University / College winner - $300.
High School Winner - $300.
Honorable Mention (10 selections) - Certificate of Appreciation
Top 30 pieces of artwork will be displayed at the Rendon Photography & Fine Art Gallery with the opportunity for you to sell your artwork
Theme: Census 2010 – We want the art to focus on San Antonio and/or Texas to encourage participation in the 2010 Census and a complete count. The artwork should target hard-to-count communities specifically Latino, Immigrant and African-American neighborhoods. The art we are looking for should be representative of the local culture and be imaginative, with lively images that encourage getting everyone counted in the 2010 Census.
Specifications:In order for your artwork to be accepted it should be no smaller than 8x10 inches and not larger than 16x20 inches and ready to hang for exhibition. Canvas, pastels, watercolor, photography and any other appropriate media are acceptable. The artwork needs to include the words “Cuentanos Bien” or “Count us Right” in the artwork. Please do not sign the front of your artwork.
Entry Details: All artwork needs to be submitted with the following information: name, address, phone number, email address, medium, category and age. This information must be attached on the back of the artwork.
Deadline: All artwork must be submitted by Monday, February 22, 2010 to the Rendon Photography & Fine Art Gallery, 733 South Alamo, San Antonio, TX 78205 by 6:00 pm.
Judging: A panel of local professional artist and census organizers will judge the artwork on Tuesday, February 23, 2010. Work will be judged on its motivational aspects as well as its creative interpretation of the importance of the 2010 Census.
Awards Presentation: The awards will be presented to the winners during Contemporary Art Month on ‘First Friday’, March 5, 2010 at the Rendon Photography & Fine Arts Gallery at 7:00 pm.
Agreement: The Southwest Workers Union will retain the ownership of the overall winner piece of artwork and retains the right to reproduce the artwork for all and any purposes related to the Census campaign.
For more information contact email@example.com
Monday, January 11, 2010
Below you will find a blog that has posted a video of the Willacy County Detention Center Vigil Jan. 09, 2009, Raymondville, TX. It is an excellent video featuring Rev. Dr. Daisy Machado's passionate analysis of the broken immigration system that exploits and oppresses us.
Special thanks to Cindy Johnson and Methodist Women who organized the vigil. It was a wonderful success.
Thanks to the numerous other faith based organizations and people who caravaned to Willacy County. Southwest Workers' Union is in the video as well. Those of us who were fasting in Solidarity with the Fast For Our Families (fastforourfamilies.org) were holding the Chains of the Broken Immigration System that binds us to Oppression and Exploitation captured in this video.
You can also sign the petition for the release of families in detention institutes - http://immigration.change.org/actions/view/petition_demanding_release_of_immigrant_rights_leader_jean_montrevil
In Solidarity Always,