Jobs & Workforce Development
Austin Interfaith Gets Living Wage Concession
After three years of public debate with business, city council and county commissioners, Austin Interfaith
brought working poverty to the forefront of public discourse, most recently winning a living wage concession from National Instruments not just for its employees, but for construction workers, at $11 / hour. [Photo: Barrera, Austin American Statesman
No. Louisiana Interfaith Wins $208K for NOVA
The Delta Regional Authority awarded workforce development project NOVA $208 thousand to expand training further into the Delta region. But only after Northern Louisiana Interfaith got the approval of Republican Congressman Alexander and Louisiana Governor Jindal. More here
. [Photo: The News Star
Not only does NOVA
train for good jobs, NOVA transforms bad jobs into better ones. When approached by a call center seeking to train for high turnover positions paying $8/ hour, NOVA challenged the employer to invest in worker development for higher pay. The call center responded and trainees now start at $10 / hour, moving to $12.50 / hour in 3 months with benefits. Call center attrition dropped.
Mississippi Clergy Stand with Nissan Auto Workers
Almost every auto-manufacturer returning to the US has done so on a non-union basis. In violation of international labor standards, manufacturers in Mississippi require that employees participate in anti-union “education” sessions that threaten plant closure if workers even discuss unionizing. In one plant, 70% of the workers are mislabeled “temporary” and earn less than half the wages of regular workers. In response, working with Congressman Bennie Thompson, 20 pastors of Working Together Jackso
n helped formed the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan, demanding that Nissan respect workers’ right to decide whether or not to unionize. More here
AMOS Monitors Courts
To ensure that people are treated with dignity by the courts, A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy (AMOS
) launched a Court Watcher program so that leaders can witness the justice system in action. Leaders are also working to keep youth out of the courts
and out of the system. [Photo: Andrea Melendez, Des Moines Register]
Nevada Leaders Fight Sex-Trafficking
In its first steps towards becoming a political force in the state, leaders of Nevadans for the Common Good traveled 450 miles to urge their legislators to toughen state laws against sex-trafficking. They noticed they were the only organization of citizens in a sea of paid lobbyists, but soon learned that politicians pay attention to broad-based power. AB 67 just passed out of the Judiciary committee and is headed to Ways and Means. Two years ago, similar legislation died in committee. More here
Arizona Bishops & Clergy Strategize for Reform
75 bishops and clergy from Lutheran, Jewish, Presbyterian, Catholic, Episcopal and Methodist faiths strategized on the future of immigration reform at an ecumenical gathering organized by the Arizona Interfaith Networ
k. Catholic Bishop Gerald Kicanas, of the Catholic Diocese of Tucson told the group that “today is a day to develop strategies” and challenged clergy, asking “what can we do to mobilize our congregations?” Episcopal Bishop Kirk Smith asserted that “the current system is broken, cruel and an affront to God and man.” More here
. [Photo Credit: Nicole Krug, Episcopal Diocese of Arizona]
Organizing for Schools
Albuquerque Interfaith Keeps Public in Public Schools
In a fight to prevent the diversion of taxpayer funding to out-of-state for-profit charter schools, 300 Albuquerque Interfaith
leaders educated the legislature's interim education committee and the state Public Education Commission about the current (lack of) resources for New Mexico public schools. Leaders’ intervention helped obtain rejection of nine for-profit out-of-state charter school proposals.
Cortes Delivers 'Prophetic Voices' Lecture in Boston
The Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life invited West / Southwest IAF Executive Director Ernesto Cortes to deliver the 'Prophetic Voices' Lecture at Boston College. Hosted by political scientist Alan Wolfe, the event was organized to honor Cortes' commitment to justice and engagement in public life. [Photo Credit: Christopher Soldt, Boston College MTS Photography]
Berkeley Seminary Class on Organizing 'A Success'
At the invitation of the Episcopal seminary at Berkeley's Graduate Theological Union, the Bay Area Organizing Committee (BAOC
) led a week-long class: 'Organizing for Congregational Renewal'. Thirty-one Christian and Jewish seminarians, clergy and lay leaders participated. One student said it was "one of the most eye-opening and practical things during my time in seminary."
Interfaith Education Fund Hosts Seminars
Leaders and organizers convened in San Antonio for an engaging discussion of modern pressures on families, including health, education and the economy. Renowned journalist Michael Lind, author of Land of Promise: Economic History of the US, outlined major political and economic shifts. Leaders engaged Harvard economist Richard Murnane about the class based achievement gap and education policy. His forthcoming book is Restoring Opportunity: How Stronger Schools and Families Can Rekindle the America Dream. Boston professor Mary Jo Murnane surveyed the latest cancer research and strategies patients can consider.