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Progressive Democrats of America – PA 12th CD Chapter

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Labor Mourns Death of Philando Castile

Posted by randyshannon on July 16, 2016

PhilandoAFL-CIO, Teamsters mourn shooting death of Philando Castile

July 7, 2016
ST. PAUL

The Minnesota AFL-CIO(link is external) and Teamsters Local 320(link is external) have issued statements mourning the shooting death of Philando Castile, who was killed Wednesday night after his car was stopped by police in Falcon Heights.

Castile was a member of Local 320 since 2002 and worked as a nutrition services supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School in St. Paul.

“The 11,000 members of Teamsters Local 320 are saddened and grieving the loss of Teamster brother Philando Castile,” Local 320 said in a statement. “This is a tragedy on every level and all Teamsters are encouraged to keep the Castile family in our thoughts and prayers.”

Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer Brian Aldes said, “Last night, Teamsters Local 320 lost a union brother and my deepest condolences are with his family in their time of grief.”

Teamsters Local 320 President Sami Gabriel said, “I have known Philando ‘Phil’ Castile since he joined the Teamsters back in 2002 and he was an amazing person who did his job at St. Paul Public Schools because he loved the children he served. He will be deeply missed by his colleagues and his community.”

The union also said that, while it represents law enforcement personnel in some jurisdictions in Minnesota, it did not represent the officer involved in the shooting.

Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy issued the following statement:

“Words cannot even begin to describe what Philando Castile’s family and friends must be going through right now. Minnesota’s labor movement grieves for the loss of yet another young African-American man.

“While our thoughts and prayers are with Philando’s family and friends, we know that thoughts and prayers aren’t enough.

“We need to begin by giving state and federal authorities time to do their jobs, conduct impartial investigations, and let due process take its course.

“However, we must acknowledge that a double standard exists for African-American men when interacting with law enforcement. Whether the bias is intentional or not, too many African-American men find themselves on the receiving end of deadly force.

“There are no quick and easy solutions to this all too familiar incident. These are complex problems that will require tough conversations and decisions.

“Minnesota’s labor movement remains committed to helping address the racial inequalities, in both the economic and criminal justice systems, that continue to persist in our state and nation.”

The Minnesota AFL-CIO is the state labor federation made up of more than 1,000 affiliate unions, representing more than 300,000 working people throughout Minnesota.

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‘Protect Your Drinking Water’–A County-Wide Public Form in Ambridge, April 20

Posted by carldavidson on April 12, 2016

AmbRes-SWPP.Apr20.Forum-photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIGILANT CITIZENS URGED TO ATTEND PUBLIC FORUM

TO PROTECT DRINKING WATER SOURCE

OF EIGHT LOCAL MUNICIPALITIES

Ambridge, Pa.—Timely is the word for “Protect Your Drinking Water,” a public forum to be held in Ambridge, Pa. on April 20, 2016. Starting at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria of Ambridge High School at 909 Duss Ave., vigilant citizens from Ambridge, Baden, Bell Acres, Economy, Edgeworth, Harmony, Leet, and Leetsdale will learn how they can help protect the source of their drinking water from potential contaminants.

An Associated Press-GfK Poll conducted online in February, 2016 showed that only about half of Americans are very confident in the safety of what’s flowing from their tap. And the same poll showed more than half of Americans believing that the problems in Flint, Mich., are a sign of widespread problems in the U.S.

Unlike Flint, a closer-to-home crisis in Coudersport, Pa., at 200 miles away, and previous water-quality problems in Beaver Falls, at 16 miles away, have shown that safe drinking water starts way before it gets to the kitchen faucet: it starts at the source. And that source for customers of the Ambridge and Edgeworth Water Authorities is a unique rural watershed, the Service Creek Watershed and Ambridge Reservoir.

At the forum, explaining how local residents can work together to protect this precious water source will be the job of three water-quality experts: Don Muir, Source Water Protection Plan Specialist, Pennsylvania Rural Water Association; Daniel S. Fisher, Hydrogeologist, Wetstone Solutions, LLC; and Dr. John Stolz, Duquesne Center for Environmental Research and Education.

These speakers will also field questions on why the Ambridge Reservoir, as the source of local drinking water, needs protection now more than ever. Read the rest of this entry »

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UnCommon Grounds Gets Grant for Downtown Aliquippa Park

Posted by carldavidson on February 26, 2016

Herb Bailey, minister director of Uncommon Ground Café, examines site for new park.

By David Taube
Beaver County Times

ALIQUIPPA, Feb 26, 2016 -  — A longstanding proposal to create a community park next to Uncommon Grounds Cafe could finally become a reality.

City officials are reviewing a way to help the cafe take over vacant property next to the building on Franklin Avenue. The cafe’s ministry director, Herb Bailey, said the site could have a splash pad, basketball court and music performance area that includes a covered stage.

“This plan for the park has been in place for about nine years, and so this is the culmination of a dream,” Bailey said. “It’s really exciting to finally … be at the cusp of groundbreaking.”

An agreement would involve the city handing property and responsibility over to the cafe’s parent organization, Church Army USA, a ministry affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America.

Uncommon Grounds Cafe serves food, but its leading objective is to serve people. The cafe is run by evangelists and volunteers who seek to transform the community through a Christian message and outreaches.

When Bailey started with the cafe a few years ago, proposed designs envisioned a park next to the cafe. But the project never got past a phase of proposed renderings.

Bailey said he put together a grant and last year received an award notice that a $60,000 federal Community Development Block Grant through the Community Development Program of Beaver County would help the project.

But Bailey said other factors were at play, such as Dwan Walker being elected mayor in 2011. He said the mayor is “excited to write new stories for the community.”

Grading and other work could begin this year, and phases of the project could be finished by 2019 or earlier.

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Donna Smith, Single Payer Activist, is new Executive Director of PDA

Posted by randyshannon on January 18, 2016

DonnaSmithandJohnConyers
Photo: Donna Smith with Rep. John Conyers, author of HR 676

by Randy Shannon

Treasurer, PA 12th C.D. Chapter, PDA

As a long-time activist in Progressive Democrats of America and the leader of the PDA Economic and Social Justice Team, I want to welcome Donna Smith as PDA’s new Executive Director. Donna Smith has been a national leader in the fight for Medicare for All and a long time member of PDA. She was featured in Michael Moore’s film Sicko.

Thanks to Conor Boylan for his work helping PDA through the transition from the tragic loss of our founder Tim Carpenter.

Tim Carpenter‘s last big project for PDA was to organize a national petition drive to convince Bernie Sanders to run for President. Tim’s vision is now a reality, and it is one of Tim’s greatest successes. PDA is helping build the grass roots movement that can produce a President Sanders.

Bernie has made Medicare for All a central element of his campaign for President. Who better than Donna Smith, shown here with Rep. John Conyers, author of HR 676 – Medicare for All, to lead PDA to help elect Bernie Sanders President and finally win the battle for Medicare for All.

Read the Medicare for All bill – HR 676.

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UAW Wins Election at VW Chattanooga

Posted by randyshannon on December 7, 2015

VWChattanoogaWorkers

BY BERNIE WOODALL

December 4, 2015
Reuters
The United Auto Workers union won its first organizing vote at a foreign-owned auto assembly plant in the U.S. South on Friday, in a groundbreaking victory after decades of failed attempts.

About 71 percent of skilled trades workers who cast ballots at Volkswagen AG’s (VOWG_p.DE) factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee voted to join the UAW, according to the company and the union. The skilled trades workers account for about 11 percent of the 1,450 hourly employees at the plant.

If the UAW victory, as expected, survives an appeal by Volkswagen to the National Labor Relations Board, the 164 skilled trades workers will be the first foreign-owned auto assembly plant workers to gain collective bargaining rights in the southern United States. While the unit of skilled trades workers who maintain the assembly machinery are a fraction of the hourly work force, observers said the victory was significant and could serve as a launching pad for the union’s efforts to organize other foreign-owned plants in the south.

“It gives the UAW a significant new tool in trying to organize the foreign automakers in the south. Symbolically, it’s going to be huge,” said Dennis Cuneo, a former automotive executive who has dealt with the UAW in past organizing campaigns. Gary Casteel, UAW secretary-treasurer and head of the union’s organizing efforts, downplayed the significance of the vote and its influence on the UAW’s attempts to organize workers at southern plants including those owned by Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) and Daimler AG’s (DAIGn.DE) Mercedes-Benz.

“To the overall grand plan of the UAW it’s probably not monumental, but to those workers, it’s a big deal,” Casteel said in an interview on Friday.

Casteel, and Chattanooga UAW Local 42 President Mike Cantrell, in a separate interview on Thursday, said the election was a result of the “frustration” of skilled trades workers not having collective bargaining rights for wages and benefits. “Every case has to be built on the circumstances” at each plant, Casteel said. “We are not filing on Nissan or Mercedes tomorrow, but if our evaluation proved that there was a unit that was ready and strong enough to have an election, certainly we would explore it.”

The union narrowly lost a February 2014 ballot in which all of the Chattanooga plant’s hourly workers were eligible to vote.

During that vote, Republican U.S. Senator Bob Corker, whose hometown is Chattanooga, said, “I’ve had conversations today and based on those am assured that should the workers vote against the UAW, Volkswagen will announce in the coming weeks that it will manufacture its new mid-size SUV here in Chattanooga.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Aliquippa’s Uncommon Grounds: More Than Just a Cafe

Posted by carldavidson on December 7, 2015

uncommon-grounds-cafe

By Lauren Walker

Your Beaver County

People don’t just visit Uncommon Grounds Cafe in Aliquippa for the food. But, let me tell you, the food is delicious.

Panini’s made with fresh cut bread, homemade soups, made-to-order breakfasts, fresh desserts baked daily, plus a variety of drinks – hot and cold, coffee and tea, milkshakes and smoothies. And then there are the daily specials – pulled pork, chili, lasagna, ribs, mac n cheese…did I mention its all homemade?

Food this good can’t be this cheap. But it is, because the food isn’t the point.

A Place to be Heard

The main point of the Cafe, the reason it opened its doors in 2001, was to serve people.

Uncommon Grounds Cafe is a cooperative venture of the local people of Aliquippa and local churches working together to provide a safe place for anyone and everyone. A place to be heard, to be known, to be appreciated and accepted.

It’s so much more than a place to grab a quick meal or drink. It’s a ministry. It’s a place where the lonely, the outcast, the hurting can come together and find a friend who will listen. It’s a place where people of all ages and races can walk through the doors, create together, and change Aliquippa.

Changing Aliquippa

Aliquippa, like so many other towns along the Monongahela and Ohio rivers, was an ideal location for industry. When Pittsburgh was emerging as a major steel making hub in the late 1800s, Jones and Laughlin Steel Corp. sought to expand downriver and purchased a huge lot of land along the banks of the Ohio River to build one of the largest integrated steel mills in the world.

Thousands of immigrants flooded into Aliquippa to find jobs and the area experienced an era of prosperity – businesses lined Franklin Avenue, housing developments where built all over the area, generations of families were living in Aliquippa and life was good.

But like all good things, the era of big steel came to an end. Like many towns in Pennsylvania and throughout the Rust Belt, Aliquippa went into a depression. J&L was gone. As were the stores on Franklin Avenue. With nowhere to work, many families packed up and left to begin life elsewhere.

For many years some would say Aliquippa lost its hope and its creativity.

Then John Stanley, a Church Army officer from Australia, moved to Aliquippa. He purchased an old store front and with the help of many volunteers from local churches, remodeled the old building into a cafe.

Meet Herb Bailey

After 14 years of service in Aliquippa, Stanley felt called to return home and left the Cafe in the hands of current Ministry Director, Herb Bailey. Bailey, along with Operations Director Scott Branderhorst and many volunteers, continue the work what Stanley started.

“We are a place of respite for the weary neighbor, a place of encouragement for the local entrepreneur who dreams of being their own business owner, a place where people that want to give back whether it is court-mandated or soul-mandated and are allowed to engage others in a safe environment. We are a hub of opportunity and a bastion of hope, joining others who also are looking for hope. We hope to offer dignity in a way that says we recognize that no matter your story, you are precious in the site of God,” said Bailey.

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Progressive Democrats to Meet on Social Security

Posted by carldavidson on July 24, 2015

Breakfast-Flyer-150801

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PA Gov. Battles Republicans for Education Budget

Posted by randyshannon on July 21, 2015

Wolf, Pa. GOP to resume meetings as budget stalemate hits three weeks

Progressive Democrats and Union members rally for taxing drillers and funding schools in Beaver, PA on 7/20/15

Progressive Democrats and Union members rally for taxing drillers and funding schools in Beaver, PA on 7/20/15

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has returned to Harrisburg as Gov. Tom Wolf and top Republican lawmakers were set to resume face-to-face meetings to discuss a three-week-old budget stalemate.

No major votes were expected today.

The Democratic governor and Republicans who control the Legislature are sparring over competing budget proposals. Mr. Wolf is seeking a multibillion-dollar tax increase to deliver a record funding boost to schools and wipe out a long-term deficit that’s damaged Pennsylvania’s creditworthiness.

Republicans passed a zero-tax increase budget with a smaller boost for education, but Mr. Wolf vetoed it, saying it didn’t meet his goals and used gimmickry to balance.

The stalemate has left the state government without full spending authority. That includes payments to schools and nonprofits and county agencies that help administer Pennsylvania’s social-services safety net.

During a regularly scheduled appearance at KDKA-AM radio in Pittsburgh today, Mr. Wolf said that bad state budgeting is costing taxpayers about $170 million a year.

Mr. Wolf said state government is paying a premium of about 1 percent interest on $17 billion in debt. He linked the extra borrowing cost to five credit downgrades that Pennsylvania has received in the past three years.

“This isn’t just Democrat Tom Wolf talking, this is people outside looking at us and right now we’re paying a premium of about 1 percent on our debt, that’s $17 billion,” Wolf said. “That adds up to about $170 million a year we’re all paying. It’s not going to education. It’s not going to roads and bridges. It’s going to the pockets of people who have bought our bonds because we don’t have a good budget.”

In the meantime, Republicans are complaining about a $750,000 ad campaign by an affiliate of the Washington, D.C.-based Democratic Governors Association that is targeting them in the showdown. The affiliate, America Works USA, has not disclosed the source of the money.

Mr. Wolf and Republicans are sparring over competing budget proposals during the stalemate, which has left the state government without full spending authority. That includes payments to schools and nonprofits and county agencies that help administer Pennsylvania’s social services safety net.

Mr. Wolf is seeking a multibillion-dollar tax increase to deliver a record funding boost to schools and wipe out a long-term deficit that’s damaged Pennsylvania’s creditworthiness. Republicans passed a zero-tax increase budget with a smaller boost for education, but Wolf vetoed it, saying it didn’t meet his goals and used gimmickry to balance.

Mr. Wolf, a first-time officeholder who became governor in January, told KDKA-AM he believes that Republicans are probably doing “some testing of me as a new governor, which I think is designed to see if I’m really serious about standing up for what I believe and what I think the people of Pennsylvania want.”

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Sanders Draws Roars and Cheers from Union Retirees

Posted by carldavidson on July 11, 2015

By Mark Gruenberg
People’s World

July 10 2015 – WASHINGTON (PAI) – Hundreds of retirees, in D.C. for the legislative-political conference of the Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA), gave a warm welcome to Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind.-Vt., who is challenging Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries. They began with chants of “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” and interrupted his speech with several long – and unprompted-standing ovations.

The enthusiasm of the ARA delegates is important: The union-backed organization has 4.3 million members in every congressional district nationwide. And those retired unionists in turn represent the consistently largest and most-active political constituency in the U.S. – Democratic, Independent or Republican – the elderly.

ARA delegates gave Sanders — a down-the-line supporter of unions, workers and their rights, the elderly, Social Security and Medicare — thunderous applause as he reiterated those stands. After his speech, delegates spent their afternoon lobbying for those causes, too.

Sanders knew what the crowd wanted, which is what he has preached for his 24-year career in Congress and what he gave to the ARA on July 9: An active endorsement of their goals. He and the delegates are led by protecting and expanding Social Security – by scrapping the wage cap on income taxed to provide for benefits and using that money to pay more to beneficiaries. The American people want that, too, Sanders declared.

“Because of the ARA and other groups like it and because of the trade union movement, there was a poll two weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal, where 61 percent of the people said ‘lift the caps,’ while 20 percent opposed,” he added, to cheers.

“But the struggle is not only to extend and expand Social Security,” he said. “It’s to have Medicare for all” – he specified it should be a single-payer government-run health plan – “and a national standard of living with dignity, raising the minimum wage to be a living wage, and to have pay equity for woman workers.” (Continued)

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Trumka Works to Control Trade Unions’ Sanders Momentum

Posted by randyshannon on July 3, 2015

AFL-CIO’s Challenge: Tempering Unions’ Embrace of Bernie Sanders

By Sandy Fitzgerald   |   Friday, 03 Jul 2015 10:42 AM
AFL-CIO Pres. Richard Trumka with Sen. Bernie Sanders

AFL-CIO Pres. Richard Trumka with Sen. Bernie Sanders

AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka is warning labor leaders to hold off on endorsing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bid for the presidency, saying the federation’s bylaws specify that such endorsements are to be left up to the organization on a national level.

Trumka, in a memo sent out this week, reminded groups that they are not allowed to “endorse a presidential candidate” or even work on statements or resolutions that indicate a preference for any candidate, reports Politico. Further, he said that “personal statements” are also forbidden.

“Because in years past, and already this year, a number of questions have been raised,” Trumka said, “I want to remind you all that the AFL-CIO endorsement for president and vice president belongs to the national AFL-CIO.

“State federations, central and area labor councils, and all other subordinate bodies must follow the national AFL-CIO endorsement regarding president and vice president.”

Under the organization’s procedures on endorsement, a political committee makes its recommendation to the executive council in Washington, which then submits it for ratification by leaders of its member unions. A two-thirds majority is required to approve the endorsement.

Trumka said the AFL-CIO had sent out questionnaires to both Democrats and Republicans, with a Friday deadline, and plans to interview candidates during its July executive council meeting.

National union leaders, though, are drawn to the party’s more progressive side, represented by Sanders, an independent running for the Democratic nomination, and groups in South Carolina and Sanders’ home state of Vermont have already passed resolutions that support him. Some union leaders in Iowa are also calling for a resolution to be passed at their convention in August to back Sanders.

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