Sep
25

And the 2014 City Paper vote for “Best Activism” goes to…Free Your Voice!

The City Paper recently published their “Best of Baltimore 2014″ edition. Free Your Voice took the prize for “Best Activism” in Baltimore. Cheers to  the creativity and commitment  of the students and community members of Curtis Bay and beyond in the fight for the human right to clean air and a healthy community!

To learn more about the work of Free Your Voice to stop the construction of what would be the nation’s largest incinerator within a mile of Benjamin Franklin High School in South Baltimore, be sure to check out stoptheincinerator.wordpress.com/

 

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Aug
28

Photos from Human Rights Rally at Maryland Statehouse (All Lives Matter!)

Thanks to everyone who came out yesterday to support the Moral Monday’s solidarity human rights rally. It was a powerful moment to have so many different communities and organizations coming together across the lines of differences to make it clear that all lives matter.

Forward together, not one step back!

Check out the photos below!

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Aug
26

[UPDATE] ACTION ALERT: Human Rights Rally in Annapolis, Aug. 27, 4pm

Come join us on Wednesday, August 27th at 4pm on the Lawyer’s Mall (100 State Circle, Annapolis) as community members, people of faith, students, and environmental allies rally before the Maryland State House to make it known that “all lives matter.” We, along with dozens of other local communities across the country, will gather in solidarity with the North Carolina “Forward Together Moral Monday” movement. Speakers and participants from across our state will share their stories and call for the need for healthcare for all, paid sick leave, a clean and healthy environment, police accountability, voting rights, and economic equality. Our stories and fights are connected. All lives do matter!

The “Forward Together Moral Monday” movement officially began in North Carolina in April 2013 when 17 North Carolinians, including leaders of the North Carolina NAACP, lifted up their voices in protest and participated in acts of civil disobedience to denounce the wave of voter suppression and the further undermining of the rights of people of color, women, children, and the LGBTQ community on the state level. Since 2013 tens of thousands of people from across North Carolina have come together, despite political, racial or religious affiliations, to rally outside the state capitol every Monday during the legislative session.

Tomorrow we will raise our voices in solidarity with North Carolina as we call for human rights and Fair Development across the state of Maryland.

WHO: United Workers, Free Your Voice, Anne Arundel NAACP, Healthcare is a Human Right-Maryland, the Caucus of African American Leaders, local clergy, local community members and YOU!

WHEN: Tomorrow! [Wednesday, August 27th at 4pm]

WHERE: 100 State Circle- Lawyer’s Mall in Annapolis, MD

If you have any questions call Matt @ 410- 236-5488. Be sure to check out the event on facebook.

MoralMonday_flier_UW_highres (1)

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Aug
20

ACTION ALERT: Human Rights Rally in Annapolis – Wednesday, August 27th @ 4pm

 

MoralMonday_flier_UW_highres (1)

 

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Aug
05

Watch NEW United Workers Media Team Video on Our Fight to Make Housing a Human Right

Watch the  NEW United Workers Media Team Video on Our Fight for Fair Development and the  Human Right to Housing 

Housing is a Human Right (part 1): Maryland’s Housing Crisis from United Workers on Vimeo.

In 1968 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. described a housing crisis in America when he explained, “Poor people are forced to pay more for less. Living in conditions day in and day out where the whole area is constantly drained without being replenished. It becomes a kind of domestic colony. And the tragedy is, so often these forty million people are invisible because America is so affluent, so rich. Because our expressways carry us from the ghetto, we don’t see the poor.”

Today, Maryland is facing a housing crisis. Baltimore alone has over 40,000 vacants. United Workers is organizing to tell our untold stories and to create permanently affordable housing for everyone across the region. Renters, homeowners and the homeless are building unity and standing up to find solutions to the housing crisis we face.

In this video, we articulate our shared challenge around housing and highlight the growing movement to realize Fair Development and our human right to housing.

With the Housing Roundtable, community members from across the city—including homeowners, homeless, and renters—are working together to research, study, and discuss the current housing crisis as well as viable solutions to change Baltimore’s broken housing system.

This citywide group has successfully continued to meet for over a year, developed committed working groups, and organized 3 housing speak outs, with plans for another this winter!

Join the fight for Fair Development! Email: Rachel@unitedworkers.org for more information.

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Jun
23

Baltimore Sun: ‘South Baltimore Students Protest Against Planned Plant Near 2 Schools’

South Baltimore Students Protest Against Planned Plant Near 2 Schools 

High-schoolers ask school board to opt out of energy contract 

June 16th, 2014, by Erica Green The Baltimore Sun

A group of Baltimore students are calling on the school board to pull out of its agreement to purchase energy from a planned plant that would burn waste within a mile of two schools in one of the most polluted neighborhoods of the city.

Students from Benjamin Franklin High School have reignited a debate over the Fairfield Renewable Energy Project — what the students and environmental advocates consider an incinerator — that was approved in 2010 and would be the largest of its kind in the nation.

What started as a service-learning initiative at the high school has spurred a group called “Free Your Voice,” which is using poems, songs and compelling testimony to garner the attention of city and state leaders to help stop the industrialization of the Curtis Bay and Brooklyn neighborhoods in South Baltimore. The neighborhoods have been ranked among the most polluted ZIP codes in Maryland and the country.

“We feel like this development just stomps over this whole idea of human rights,” said Destiny Watford, who graduated from Benjamin Franklin last year and now attends Towson University. “We live in a community that’s very polluted, and no one seems to care. It isn’t fair. It isn’t equitable. It isn’t right.”

Patrick Mahoney, president of Energy Answers International, which is building the plant, said the project was approved because it met the strictest of standards set forth by the Department of the Environment and received buy-in from the community.

He said he believes the students are being influenced by environmental groups and wants to invite the group to visit its other site in Massachusetts to get a better view of how the Baltimore plant would operate.

“I respect the students’ choice in looking at things like this and taking a position,” Mahoney said. “The one issue I have is that they don’t have enough nor the right information and are taking a position without the right foundation.”

The students recently made an emotional plea to the school district to halt plans to purchase energy from the plant.

The district signed a contract in April 2011 to join 22 other entities slated to buy energy from the plant, which was to be built within 48 months of the signing of the contract. The plant’s construction has been delayed, however, and the district can pull out with no penalty if it is not built by April.

The project has run into roadblocks, failing to garner enough energy purchasers to finance the nearly $1 billion plant’s construction. Mahoney said that is changing, though.

Shanaysha Sauls, president of the city school board, said staff were reviewing information provided by the group during a presentation — which received a standing ovation from board members — as well as the district’s contract with Albany-based Energy Answers.

“The board was extraordinarily impressed … and will definitely take it up for discussion,” Sauls said.

The plant has been controversial since it was proposed.

The Free Your Voice group has asked whether the company has missed crucial construction deadlines, which would require it to go through the approval process again.

Jay Apperson, spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment, said the company has received one extension to its original Feb. 12, 2012, deadline for construction to commence. It has 18 months from August 2013 to begin construction, and some preliminary work has been done on the site.

But Apperson said the department will assess the company’s compliance with the Clean Air Act, which requires that construction continue “at a reasonable pace and be completed within a reasonable timeframe,” after Energy Answers files its next progress report, which is due by July 30.

Mahoney said the company considers it a “resource recovery facility” — not an incinerator — that would recover more than the average recycling plant. The plant would be the cleanest in the nation and would generate electricity and steam from waste that otherwise would fill up landfills, he said. He said that pre-construction work on the site has included assessing contamination that would remain on the site if the plant weren’t being built.

“Our goal is to create a sustainable enterprise that is very much better than landfilling, that will have economic benefits as well as environmental benefits,” Mahoney said. “We have gotten permits where nobody else has because this has been an exhaustive process.”

Mahoney said odor would not be an issue. He also said that trucks carrying materials would only take routes agreed upon by the community.

He added that residents had been an integral part of the project, pointing out that community associations signed a memorandum of understanding before the project was approved by the state.

But Free Your Voice contends that the company cannot guarantee that the 240 pounds of mercury and 1,000 pounds of lead the plant is legally allowed to emit per year won’t be harmful.

They also point out that a health impact study for the site was not required and therefore never conducted.

Environmental groups also have criticized the project for skirting a law that prohibits building an incinerator within a mile of a school. The Energy Answers project is considered a “power plant” by the state.

It would burn shredded municipal waste, tire chips, auto parts and demolition debris for fuel within a mile of Benjamin Franklin and Curtis Bay Elementary.

“It just seems really selfish that they were able to do that,” said Leah Rozier, a senior at Benjamin Franklin who also resides in Curtis Bay. “It makes you wonder, if this was happening in their neighborhoods, near their children, to their families, if the same decision would have been made.”

Local political leaders have been supportive of the students’ efforts to renew the debate, though they say that not all see the project, which will bring jobs and other benefits to the community, as harmful.

In 2010, the Curtis Bay and Brooklyn community associations signed a memorandum of understanding under which the company would offer the community scholarships and $50,000 to $100,000 a year in donations for community improvements. The company also vowed in the memorandum to spare residents from dust, noise and pollutants.

Sen. Bill Ferguson, who represents the Curtis Bay area, said that while community associations have been generally supportive of the project, he believes the Free Your Voice group has raised awareness of possible environmental justice issues that should be taken into consideration.

“They bring up some very real concerns and have been very successful in presenting a compelling argument that there needs to be a review of this project to make sure there isn’t an over-saturation of pollutants in this neighborhood,” Ferguson said.

While they wait for the next steps, the students — all of whom live in the affected neighborhoods — plan to continue their awareness campaign, which has included petitions, letters to elected officials, and knocking on hundreds of doors in their neighborhoods.

“We met a lot of people who didn’t know what an incinerator was,” Rozier said. “It was very overwhelming how many people didn’t know what was going on in their own backyard.”

Drawing on federal data, the Environmental Integrity Project, a Washington-based environmental group, found last year that the Curtis Bay and Brooklyn ZIP codes had the highest toxic air pollution from businesses and factories — the neighborhood is home to more than a dozen plants including fuel depots, coal piers and other industrial facilities — in the state.

The plants account for more than one-third of all such emissions in Maryland, the study found, and nearly 90 percent of Baltimore’s total.

“They’re just making this a dumping ground, and it’s not fair to dump on the little people because of money,” said Charles Graham, a senior at Benjamin Franklin. “It’s not fair to possibly have your life shortened because of where you grew up.”

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Jun
09

Photo Slideshow: 9th Annual Human Rights Dinner (2014)

The 9th annual Human Rights Dinner was a wonderful evening of celebration and reflection. Check out the photos from the night on our Flickr page!

 

 

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Jun
05

Leah N Drey Perform Free Your Voice Anthem at Baltimore City School Board Meeting

On Tuesday, May 27th Free Your Voice traveled to the Baltimore City school board meeting to let them know that plans for building the nation’s largest trash incinerator less than a mile from several schools in Curtis Bay is failed developed and that we need to work together to demand Fair Development and stop its construction. During the student presentation the brilliant sister duo, Leah N Drey (formerly Double Impact), performed the Free Your Voice Anthem. Below is a video of their powerful performance.

 

Check out the lyrics to the Free Your Voice Anthem written by Audrey and Leah Rozier (aka Double Impact).

Verse 1:
18 year old girl living in a world where no one cares about the safety of this girl
I’m disgusted, I can’t believe we trusted the world but it’s not too late to be adjusted
Money money money that seems to be the anthem
Destroying the world and always taking it for granted
No more green, only buildings and all that I can see is landfills and
We have our rights according to the amendments
But why do we feel like we’ve been so resented
Ignored, shoved to the side where opinions don’t matter where opinions only die
It’s time to stand up, let our voices be heard
Incinerator move cause you’re not preferred
It’s about that time, to make the choice
Imma stand up and free my voice

Chorus:
It’ll all get better, we can change the world
And it starts with music, get your message heard
You’ve gotta free your voice, from all the boys to the girls
It’ll all get better, we can change the world

Verse 2:
This life starts with the air that we breathe
And trying to succeed
Not the air that we need
The eye is deceived
But with all this pollution
Instead of giving
does all of the killing
How many do we need
Until the smoke clogs up and we can’t feel our chest
With everyone competitive
Just worried bout the money
When you think opportunity
The air quality will help and keep you livin
It’s like good deeds are forbidden
And everyone is looking to take
Not knowing that the bad polluted air
If the incinerator takes away a breath
Until there is nothing thats left
And the ones who don’t catch the symptoms
Are considered blessed
It time for change
Before our planet gets destroyed
Before death, is something we cannot avoid
The time is now before we don’t have a choice
So let’s stand tall together, and free our voice

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Jun
05

Baltimore Brew: “Making Music from a Plea About Airborne Mercury and Materialism”

Making Music from a Plea About Airborne Mercury and Materialism 

Students strage a show to urge Baltimore city schools to end its association with Energy Answers’ planned trash-to-energy incinerator. 

May 29, 2014, by Allison Brickell, Baltimore Brew

Using a video, a rap performance, a Shakespeare-themed soliloquy and cold facts about industrial pollution, a group of student activists asked the school board on Tuesday to withdraw its contract with Energy Answers, a company that is looking to build an incinerator less than a mile from their South Baltimore school.

Free Your Voice, a group organized by United Workers and made up of students from various Baltimore schools and the Curtis Bay area, said the school system should not have supported the planned trash-burning power plant by agreeing to buy power from it.

“The sanctity of human life isn’t being acknowledged or respected,” said Destiny Watford, a Towson University freshman and Benjamin Franklin High School alum, who lead the group presentation at the meeting. “The fact that schools are supporting this shocked us.”

Watford showed a video she and other members of the group had made of their Curtis Bay community featuring points of pride, like the community garden near Benjamin Franklin High School.

The video contrasted the garden imagery with images of nearby industry.

“This is Curtis Bay’s backyard,” Watford said in the video as images of smokestacks appeared on the screen. “I never felt welcome. Now I know why.”

Burning Refuse, Wood Waste, Car Parts

In December, the students marched from the high school to the former chemical plant where Albany-based Energy Answers has been trying to build the 160-megawatt Fairfield Renewable Energy Power Plant.

Opponents have been battling state utility and environmental officials over the estimated $1 billion project for the last four years.

Designed to generate power by burning refuse, tires, wood waste, car parts and other material, the plant would, according to Energy Answers, provide 180 jobs and meet or exceed air quality standards. Environmentalists say it would severely harm the health of an area that is already burdened with the highest levels of toxic pollution in the state.

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has said the emissions of particulates, lead and other harmful substances would be within the legal limits. Environmental advocates say the project would not be approved under regulations that have tightened since the plant was approved by the Maryland Public Service Commission in 2010.

Baltimore City Schools has agreed to purchase energy from the incinerator through the Baltimore Regional Cooperative Purchasing Committee — a group representing 22 entities in Maryland, including Howard County, Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walters Museum, the city of Annapolis, and Baltimore City.

These contracts were signed in 2011, the same year Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill that designated waste-to-energy incineration as Tier 1 renewable energy. The new standard put incineration in the same category as solar, wind, and other renewable energy.

Profits and Pollution

Although the students’ Free Your Voice group has been researching the public health and regulatory issues around the Energy Answers project, Tuesday’s presentation was more about fair community development and environmental justice.

After the video concluded, Watford said the Curtis Bay community deserves to be treated as fairly as any other community, that it’s not those who make money from incinerators who suffer health problems because of them.

“The only people paying the consequences are the members of the community,” Watford said.

Watford said the plant should not be built in an area that already has a high rate of respiratory problems and other health problems. “Is it fair to have your life cut short because of where you were born?” Watford said. “We say that it’s not fair, that it’s not right. That incinerator is failed development.”

If built, the Energy Answers incinerator would be among the largest of its kind in the nation and would produce more pollutants per hour of energy produced than the largest coal plants in Maryland, Watford said, concluding “We’re here to say that we can choose.”

Charles Graham, another member of Free Your Voice, took up the theme of choice. “Our choice is how to respond to climate change while we continue to generate more and more waste. The important thing is Hamlet recognized that he had a choice, and so do we.”

“To burn, or not to burn, that is the question,” Graham said, borrowing liberally from The Bard. “Whether ’tis better for Baltimore to breathe the foul and toxic air surrounding us or to stand up against incinerators, and by opposing stop them? To trash, to burn – waste no more, and by burning, to say we end the mercury and the thousand pounds of lead that trash has within? No – an incinerator gravely to be opposed.”

Audrey and Leah Rozier, who go by the stage name Double Impact, sang the “Free Your Voice Anthem.” Both girls sang extensively about the harmful effects of air pollution and the values they see behind it.

“This life starts with the air that we breathe, with everyone competitive and trying to succeed,” Leah Rozier said. “Just worried ’bout the money, not the air that we need, when you think opportunity the eye is deceived, the air quality will help and keep you livin’, but with all this pollution it’s like good deeds are forbidden and everyone is looking to take instead of giving.”

Commissioners: We Will Take Another Look

The board members applauded the students’ performance, when they concluded. Commissioner Cheryl Casciani said she would take up the invitation to visit Curtis Bay and that she and other members of the board would examine the purchase contract more carefully.

“I’m also on the sustainability commission and we’ve had a chance to hear from a subset of the students as well and we’re definitely in support of what you’re trying to do,” Casciani said.

“I think this is part of a number of other sustainability issues. We need to consider the source of our energy. We’ll talk to people in the operations department so we can understand a little bit more about [the purchase contract]. So I’ll look forward to hearing more about that.”

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Jun
04

Students Present to Baltimore City School Board About Nations’ Largest Incinerator

On Tuesday, May 27, students, parents, and teachers from across Baltimore presented to the Baltimore City School Board on a proposal to build the nation’s largest incinerator in South Baltimore. It was a powerful event. Thank you to everyone who made it out!

For the past two years, students from our Free Your Voice Human Rights Committee at Ben Franklin High School, in Curtis Bay, have been researching the plan to construct the incinerator less than a mile from their school. Through their research they learned that in 2011 Baltimore City Schools, together with 21 other public entities in Maryland, signed a contract to purchase energy from the incinerator.

At the May 27 meeting, the students asked the School Board to begin a process to withdraw Baltimore City Schools from the contract. As a first step in this process, they invited school board members to join them on a tour of their neighborhood. The students also showed one of several videos (below) they have produced on the issue and talked about the positive alternatives to the incineration project.

“Instead of trash incinerators we hope that Curtis Bay and communities like it will be the destination for development that puts our needs first,” says Destiny Watford, a long-time community resident and a member of Free Your Voice. “We would love to see truly green solar energy, recycling and composting – development that would bring good jobs without adding to our health problems.”

At the school board meeting, the students presented thousands of handmade paper sunflowers (see our Flickr photo album below). Each of the sunflowers was signed and included a personal comment from individuals across the state calling for an end to the incinerator. Students also presented school board members with a report card on the incinerator, which they have developed for the past two years. The report cards evaluate the project and provide positive alternatives according to five basic Fair Development principles, which they believe should be at the root of every development project: Equity, Transparency, Participation, Universality, and Accountability.

In the lead-up to the School Board meeting, the students have been reaching out to thousands of students, parents, and teachers from across the city by giving classroom presentations to highlight their research on the incinerator. They have written a song about their struggle against the incinerator and their search for positive alternatives. Last December, they organized a march of over a hundred people from Ben Franklin High School to the site of the proposed incinerator less than a mile away.

Baltimore City Schools agreed to purchase energy from the incinerator through the Baltimore Regional Cooperative Purchasing Committee—a group representing 22 entities in Maryland, including Howard County, Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walters Museum, the city of Annapolis, and Baltimore City. These contracts were signed in 2011, the same year Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill that designated Waste-to-Energy incineration as Tier 1 renewable energy. The new standard put incineration in the same category as solar, wind, and other renewable energy.

If built the Energy Answers incinerator would be the largest of its kind in the nation, producing more pollutants per hour of energy produced than the largest coal plants in Maryland. The incinerator has been permitted to emit 240 pounds of mercury and 1000 pounds of lead per year, as well as other highly toxic pollutants. According to a recent MIT study, Baltimore already leads the nation in per capita air pollution-related deaths.

“We know that our lives matter just as much as anyone else’s,” says Watford. “We know that we have a right to a safe and clean environment and that our lives should not be limited by asthma or cancer just because of where we were born.”

Members of the school board accepted the students invitation to visit their neighborhood. We will keep you updated with more information as it becomes available.

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Jun
04

Images From our Northeast Housing Speakout

On Saturday, May 31, the United Workers together with the Northeast Housing Initiative spoke-out against housing injustice. Speakers shared stories about their challenges with affording rent, foreclosure, homelessness, vacants, and the need to build unity for more equitable housing. Check out the pictures below and stay tuned to audio from the Speakout on our podcast.

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May
19

Come to the United Workers 9th Annual Human Rights Dinner – Sunday, June 8

It has been an incredible year in the life of the United Workers. Please join us to celebrate amazing leaders and breakthroughs in the Fair Development Campaign. Along with our human rights champion awards, this year’s event will also feature a special Dinner Theater where guests will be treated to excerpts from Anu Yadav’s play “Meena’s Dream.” Her play grapples with complexities of poverty, immigration, and our inadequate healthcare system.

When: Sunday June 8th, 6-8pm
Where: 2640 St. Paul St. Baltimore, MD 21218.
How: Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online here.

The Human Rights Dinner is a major way United Workers sustains its work, builds our donor base, and expands capacity. This year, we are also asking our friends and allied organizations to sponsor a table. Please let us know if you can support in this way no later than May 23, 2014.

You can join the Facebook event page, here. We look forward to celebrating with you on June 8th!

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May
19

Images from the Economic Democracy Conference

We had a great time at the Economic Democracy Conference. United Workers leader Michael Coleman spoke at the opening plenary, and we helped to organize workshops on affordable housing, community land trusts, renewable energy, and participatory budgeting. You can check out some of our pictures below, and stay tuned to more media from the weekend from both the United Workers and Its Our Economy.

 

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May
09

United Workers Launches ‘End Poverty Radio’ Podcast

End Poverty Radio @ UnitedWorkers.Podomatic.com

Last week, the United Workers Media Team officially launched the “End Poverty Radio” podcast. You can now subscribe and listen  at Unitedworkers.Podomatic.com. We’ll also be creating a section for the podcast on our website, so stay tuned.

We launched the podcast at a great event on May 1, celebrating our Media Team and its important work over the years. At the Media Team Celebration we also showcased several videos, a series of photo essays with United Workers leaders, and even got on the dance floor to the beats of DJ and United Workers leader Emanuel McCray and Double Impact. Thanks to everyone who came out. You can check out pictures in the photo set below.

The event was also the culmination of a fundraiser to help the Media Team acquire new equipment. We did not reach our goal, but we did a great job. Many thanks to everyone that donated! If you wanted to support, but didn’t already get a chance to do so, you can still donate here. Also, if you have any old digital media equipment or accessories that still work (camera, audio recorder, laptop, tripod, etc.) and that you would like to donate to the United Workers, please let us know.

United Workers Media Team launches End Poverty Radio

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May
09

Come Out to the Economic Democracy Conference – May 16 & 17

Friday - Saturday, May 16 & 17

Baltimore, MD

On May 16 -17, the United Workers is helping to organize several workshops at the upcoming 2014 Economic Democracy Conference. Our members, together with local community members, policymakers, activists, and experts from around the country will attend the event, and we hope you can make it. The conference will begin on Friday night with a panel of national and local leaders who will discuss the current state of the U.S. economy and solutions to the problem of growing inequality. On Saturday, attendees will participate in a dozen workshops covering a wide range of issues including affordable housing solutions, renewable energy, food security, worker-owned cooperatives, and complementary currencies. The conference is FREE but Registration is limited, please check out their website to register and for more details and agenda.

Friday, May 16th, 6:30pm – 9pm, at The Real News Network (235 Holliday St., Baltimore, MD 21202)
Saturday, May 17th, 8am – 4pm, at The University of Maryland School of Social Work (525 West Redwood St., Baltimore, MD 21201)

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Apr
18

Join the United Workers Media Team Celebration! Thursday, May 1st

Join us for an evening of media, music, refreshments, and more!

On May 1, the United Workers Media Team is officially launching the United Workers “End Poverty Radio” podcast. We’ll also be showcasing videos, our new podcast, and a series of photo essays with United Workers leaders. Local artists will perform, including Double Impact and DJ / United Workers leader Emanuel McCray. Join our Facebook Event Page.

When: Thursday, May 1, at 6pm

Where: 2640 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, MD 21218 (Sunday Room)

This exciting moment is the culmination of many years of work in which the Media Team has been documenting the untold stories that thousands face every day across Baltimore and Maryland. It is also the close to our fundraiser to raise money for the media team to acquire new equipment. Check out our Razoo Fundraiser page and watch our video (below), please consider donating, and spreading the word.

You can donate here and also check out Media Team videos at Vimeo and YouTube, and see our pictures on Flickr.

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Apr
09

The United Workers is Hiring! Communications & Work With Dignity Organizers

The United Workers is looking to hire two individuals: A Leadership Organizer, with a focus on communications and organizing, and  a Work With Dignity Organizer to build support for a statewide Paid Sick Leave bill. The application is available below. Please help spread the word!

Job Title: Leadership Organizer

Focus: Communications and Organizing

Location: Baltimore, MD

Status: Full-time

Application deadline: Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Application Process: To apply, download the application here. Please complete the application, and send it, together with a cover letter and resume to info@unitedworkers.org or to United Workers, PO Box 41547, Baltimore, MD 21203. If you are sending this via email, you should include your last name and “Leadership Organizer Position 2014” in the subject line. In your cover letter, tell us a story about you. How you found out about this opportunity and why you are called to be a Leadership Organizer. Once the application has been received you may be contacted for an interview (this will take place shortly after application deadline of Wednesday, April 23, 2014).

Position Overview: We’re looking for the unique person whose skills and experiences are in both storytelling and organizing. As a storyteller, we’re seeking someone who can write the story as well as push it in the press, asserting our narrative frame, and helping to shape public discourse and policy debate. As an organizer, we’re looking for someone who has experience in community organizing, base-building, and leadership development. Leadership Organizers must be highly self-managing and committed to the vision and values of the organization.

 

###


2. Job Title:
 Work With Dignity Organizer

Focus: Organizing community support for a statewide Paid Sick Leave bill. The position is for six months. We’re looking for someone who has experience in community organizing, base-building, and leadership development. This position requires a deep commitment to a human rights analysis of social ills, a dedication toward developing the leadership of those most directly affected by social injustice, and a willingness to learn.

Location: Maryland – Position will require statewide travel

Status: Full-time for six months (July 7, 2014 – December, 2014)

Application deadline: Monday, May 5, 2014

Application Process: Download the application here. Applicant questionnaire, cover letter, and resume must be submitted by May 5, 2014, either by emailing these materials to info@unitedworkers.org with the subject line “Work with Dignity Position”; or by sending to United Workers, P.O. Box 41547, Baltimore, MD 21203. Once the application has been received you may be contacted for an interview (this will take place shortly after application deadline).

Background on the position: Maryland’s Paid Sick Leave campaign was launched last November and has continued to grow its grassroots and legislative. Everyone gets sick and everyone deserves the opportunity to recover without risking income or job loss. More than 700,000 Maryland workers cannot earn paid sick days and often go to work sick, send sick children to school or daycare, or in the worst situations, lose their job because they cannot come to work. In jurisdictions where state and local standards allow workers to earn paid sick days, surveys show that workers’ lives have improved and businesses succeeded. Having shown national leadership on living wage, and immigrant children’s access to public universities (the DREAM Act), Maryland has the opportunity to turn its attention to the plight of workers who are unable to earn paid sick days.

 

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Apr
03

Support the United Workers Media Team! Help us Launch our New Podcast

On May 1, the United Workers Media Team is officially launching the United Workers “End Poverty Radio” podcast. This exciting moment is the culmination of many years of work in which the Media Team has been documenting the untold stories that thousands face every day across Baltimore and Maryland.

However, in order to make the podcast happen, we need your help. Your support will help us acquire new equipment that will support both the podcast and our growing video work.

Please consider donating today!

The new podcast will be available through iTunes, Podomatic, and UnitedWorkers.org and will showcase our members, allies, and other leaders in this moment to end poverty led by the poor. We’ll feature audio from different events, radio interviews, short testimonials, and round-table discussions on issues that are facing people in Baltimore, Maryland, and across the country.

The podcast is only the latest project in our growing media work. Over the last year, alone, the Media Team has produced photo essays on six United Workers leaders, testimonies from several members of our Healthcare Is a Human Right campaign, and a series of videos documenting our fight for Fair Development (to watch these videos and more, visit the United Workers on Youtube and Vimeo). We produced two videos (here and here) last year on our struggle against the nation’s largest trash-burning incinerator, which is set to be built less than a mile from several schools in South Baltimore. These videos were retweeted by national environmental leader Bill McKibben and award winning author Margaret Atwood. We are currently working on videos on the Human Right to Housing and our fight to save our rec centers, and of course, have shot hundreds of pictures from United Workers events, actions, and meetings.

Who is the United Workers Media Team?

The United Workers Media Team is composed of United Workers members, leaders, and close allies. Many of the people on the media team had no prior media experience before joining, yet they are now photographing, interviewing, filming, editing, and bottom-lining videos. We encourage you to visit the individual pages of the media team members (at the bottom of our fundraiser page) and those looking to support this crowd funding campaign.

What will the money be used for?

In order to ensure that our podcast is of the highest quality we need to acquire new microphones and a high-quality audio recorder. Although the Media Team has grown to over 10 people, we currently have only one designated Media Team computer. We are in need of a pair of laptops, which our members can use to record the podcast, as well as edit photographs, video, and other audio. This would increase our capacity to work on different projects at the same time. The United Workers currently has only one camera that shoots video. We also hope to purchase a new DSLR camera to do high-quality video, so we can have two cameras for trainings, documentation, and filming. Finally, we are in desperate need of at least one professional tripod.

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Apr
02

Shantress Wise Testimony : Eastside Speakout for Fair Development

On Saturday, March 29, 2014 over 60 workers, community members, and a coalition of Eastside organizations spoke out against vacants and shared their vision for a new housing agenda for Baltimore City. It was an amazing event. United Workers Leadership Council member Shantress Wise has been active in the Housing Roundtable, which is researching solutions to Baltimore’s broken housing system. She was one of those that told her story. Her testimony is below. The video was filmed and edited by the United Workers Media Team.

My name is Shantress Wise. I’m with the United Workers and I’m here to Speak Out about housing, because I’ve faced it head on. Over the last twenty years, I’ve had to move 16 times and have faced countless examples of our broken housing system.

My first experience of dealing with a developer was in 2009. I was living in the West Baltimore Penn-North area and a developer came in, bought up the whole block, and started pushing us out of our homes to redevelop the community. We got a 60-day notice and they wanted us out. They promised us that we could come back after they finished the development, but that wasn’t true. They doubled the rent and nobody was able to go back. I had one neighbor who had lived there since the 1960s and she was pushed out too.

My second experience with our broken housing system was when I lost my home in 2010. I was working as a housekeeper and had to take off time for surgery. When I tried to go back to work, I learned that I had been fired. I lost my home, because that was my only income and I couldn’t pay the rent. I faced homelessness for the first time in my life. It hurt me to lose my home and I couldn’t get help from anyone. At one point I even had to resort to sleeping in the emergency room of a hospital. I ended up in the Karris House Shelter for women and children, and then went into an assisted living program, and finally into Jacob’s Well—transitional housing.

This is just my story and its just one example of how our system of housing is broken. That’s why we are coming together today to reset the agenda around housing and our human rights. We deserve dignity and respect. Housing should be affordable, not just for me, but for everyone.

I’m a part of the Housing Roundtable and we’ve been studying solutions to the housing crisis in Baltimore City. One of the things we have been learning about is community land trusts. They help the community to stay within the community, and the homes to be for the community. And I believe we need community land trusts in Baltimore City, because it’s real permanent affordable housing.
You can stay there as long as you want and not have to move from place to place. No one should have to move from place to place every year because of a broken housing system that puts private gain over people’s needs.

And we need to hold the developers accountable, not to come into our communities and take away our housing and push us out of our homes. And that’s why we are standing up and uniting, homeowners, renters, and homeless, and making our voices heard. We demand Fair Development. Housing Is a Human Right. This is our city and we need to take it back.

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Apr
01

Voices from the Eastside Speakout for Fair Development

Last Saturday’s Eastside Speakout for Fair Development was a huge success. Over 60 people attended the event from across the city. They spoke out against Baltimore City’s broken housing system and shared their vision for a new housing agenda. You can hear the recording of the event below, available through the new United Workers End Poverty Radio podcast.

 

There was some good press coverage of the event. Some of the links are below.

The Baltimore Sun: “Community Being Left out of Baltimore Redevelopment, Activists Say,” by Carrie Wells, March 29, 2014

Baltimore Brew: “Speakers Decry Lack of Affordable Housing in Baltimore,” by Mark Reutter, March 30, 2014

The Real News: “Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing,” by Ray Baker, April 6, 2014

 

Here is a Flickr Slideshow with photos taken by the United Workers Media Team

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