With Pre-Caucus Focus on GOP Race, Occupy Movement Steps Up Activism in Iowa

 

CCI Executive Director Hugh Espey was interviewed on the Dec. 21, 2011 edition of Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman. Watch the video here:

 

From the Democracy Now! website:

The Occupy movement is making its presence felt in Iowa ahead of the Iowa caucus, the nation’s first nominating contest for the 2012 presidential elections. Demonstrators have targeted the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters and the “Obama for America” office in recent days, protesting measures being considered in Washington dealing with defense spending, a planned oil pipeline and jobless benefits. Next they plan to focus on Republicans who will be crisscrossing the state in the next two weeks seeking voters’ support. “We think that we have a right to—a constitutional right to state our purpose and to call for and to address grievances that we have with the government and the corporate control over the government,” says Hugh Espey, the executive director of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a 36-year-old grassroots organization with some 4,000 members. “These sorts of protest are going to continue, until we have a system that puts people before profits and communities before corporations.”

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How President Obama can fix the Housing Crisis and Create Jobs

 

A new report released today by Iowa CCI and the New Bottom Line coalition delivers a win/win way for President Obama administration to fix the housing crisis and create jobs. For Iowa this solution would pump $140 million into our Iowa economy and create 2,000 Iowa jobs.

 

>>Read the report here: “Iowa Underwater: How President Obama Can Fix the Housing Crisis and Create Jobs.”

From the report:

More than 43,000 Iowans have lost their jobs since the start of 2008, and 37,612 are expected to lose their home sby the end of 2012….

 

But the Obama Administration and the banks can do something right now to change all that. Requiring banks to write down all underwater mortgages to market value could:

  • Pump $139,123,396 into Iowa’s economy every year;
  • Create more than 2,056 jobs in Iowa;
  • Save Iowa families an average of $373 per month on mortgage payments;
  • Decisively fix the foreclosure crisis.

…underwater mortgage debt is on of the primary drags on economic recovery.

 

The report, calls on the President to:

  • Allow the state Attorneys General to conduct a full investigation into the fraudulent and illegal activities of the Wall Street banks that caused the foreclosure;
  • Ensure that the big banks are not let off the hook for their crimes. There cannot be a broad release of claims in any current or future settlement talks with the big banks;
  • Require a minimum of $200 – $300 billion from the big banks in principal reduction for underwater homeowners.

“In Des Moines alone, 24 percent all mortgages are underwater,” said CCI member Mike McCarthy of Des Moines, “if President Obama required the banks to fix what they broke and write down the principal on all underwater mortgages to current market value, he could inject a direct cash stimulus into State’s economy of $139,123,396   – at no cost to the taxpayers.

“The banks can afford to write down principal for underwater homeowners and pay restitution to defrauded homeowners,” McCarthy said, “U.S. banks raked in $35 billion in profits this summer alone and are sitting on a historically high level of cash reserves of $1.64 trillion.”

>>Read the new report Iowa Underwater here.

 

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We received great press coverage of our direct action to reclaim $5,500 in unpaid wages owed by the owner of Margarita’s Bar & Grill in Des Moines.

Media coverage helps makes more people aware that wage theft happens in our communities and sends a strong those employers that they will be called out and held accountable.

See the coverage from WHO TV 13, ABC News 5 and the Des Moines Register below.

 

 

 

WHO TV 13 news – Restaurant Pay Protest (video)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABC 5 TV news – Protest over $5,550 in Unpaid Wages

by Jessica Daley     A former employee of Margaritas Sports Bar and Grill claims the owner owes her thousands of dollars in unpaid wages. Friday night she brought support to try and get him to pay up.

Thirty-five people chanted inside Margaritas waiting for the owner Ivan Escalona to show up.

The group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is supporting Angelica Sandoval, a former employee who says she’s owed $5500 in unpaid wages. The CCI said this is the fourth complaint they’ve received against Margaritas for employees not being paid for their work.  READ MORE

 

Des Moines Register – Demonstrators claim bar owner not paying up

A former worker alleges she is a victim of wage theft.

Written by Grant Rodgers   Demonstrators visited a southeast Des Moines bar and grill on Friday night, asking to meet with the owner and receive unpaid wages owed to a former employee.

The group of workers and volunteers with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, as well as demonstrators from Occupy Des Moines, claim that Ivan Escalona, owner of Margarita’s Bar and Grill, 1440 Maury St., owes Angelica Sandoval, a former bartender, $5,545 in wages. READ MORE

 

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“It’s not only unacceptable, it’s illegal.”

 

On Friday, December 2, two dozen Iowa CCI members and supporters from Occupy Des Moines paid a visit to Margarita’s on Des Moines’ Southeast side. We were there to collect $5,545 in unpaid wages owner Ivan Escalona owes former bartender and CCI member Angelica Sandoval – the equivalent of seven month’s pay.

Sometimes Angelica’s paychecks would bounce. Other times Escalona would only pay for some hours and make up excuses to put off paying her the rest. She came to Iowa CCI after she heard that by working with CCI a former co-worker got Escalona to pay her over $2,500 in stolen wages.

This is the fourth complaint we have received about Margarita’s not paying their employees for their hard work.

Members and staff have spoken with Margarita’s owner on the phone and tried to set up multiple meetings for him to make the situation right. After tonight’s action Sandoval will file a wage claim with Iowa Workforce Development.

“I’m very happy because we made our point here. Now everybody will know what kind of business he is running,” said Sandoval. The action was picked up by Des Moines TV Channels 5 and 13 and the Des Moines Register.

Iowa CCI organizing has helped54 workers win back $122,014.90 in stolen wages in the past year and a half.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another survey that states the obvious: Americans, across the board, oppose cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.

The AARP’s new state survey finds that 64.5% of likely Republican Caucus goers oppose cuts to Social Security. 67.3% oppose cuts to Medicare.

Read the full AARP press release here.

AARP today released state specific survey results showing that by nearly 3 to 1, (64.5% for Social Security, 67.3% for Medicare), likely Republican Caucus goers overwhelmingly oppose cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits to reduce the deficit. 


“Opposition to these benefit cuts among Republicans across the ideological spectrum confirms what AARP has been hearing from Iowans throughout our campaign to protect Social Security and Medicare:  Whether Republican, Democrat, Independent or Tea Party supporter, voters overwhelmingly oppose cuts to these programs,” said AARP Iowa State President Tony Vola.

Read the Iowa survey results here.

To get involved with the fight to save – and strengthen – Social Security, America’s best loved retirement savings program give us a call.

 

CCI members are leading the fight in Iowa to protect vital programs.

New census results released in November show that the poverty rate over the last ten years among America’s seniors had risen to 15 percent – a figure that should shame elected officials that want to put our Social Security in the hands of Wall Street.

Without Social Security, that poverty rate would easily skyrocket to over 50 percent, and that’s why CCI members have joined millions of others across the country in a campaign to save and strengthen – not cut – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Since April of this year, CCI members have held our elected officials and Presidential candidates accountable on these issues as they travel the state and host town hall meetings.  CCI members made national headlines when they asked Mitt Romney how he would protect these critical programs by making corporations pay their fair share in taxes, to which he responded “corporations are people, my friend.”   Members are fired up and ready to hold our Senators and Representatives accountable to these issues as well as candidates for President leading up to the Jan 3 Iowa caucuses.

With the debt reduction “Super-Committee” preparing to put these programs on the chopping block, we need to send a strong message to our elected officials that now is the time to save and strengthen these vital programs.

Social security important to you or those you care about? Contact us to get involved.