Iowa’s 99% Spring kickoff!

We used your quotes, photos, tweets and Facebook comments to tell the story of our Iowa 99% Spring kickoff April 14.

If you were there, I think you’ll see this captures the high energy of the day. If you missed it, this is a telling recap of a powerful day of training and action connecting over 200 Iowans – rural and urban, young and old, retirees and students, immigrants and lifelong Iowans, from occupy to union labor.

 

 

 

>>Click here to read the Des Moines Register coverage of our event.

>> Join as a CCI member or donate to help us continue to Confront Corporate Power!

 

LIKE or TWEET below if you’re ready for the 99% Spring in Iowa!

 

This morning, two members of our worker justice program were each awarded $5,000, for a total of $10,000, in wage claims and liquidative damages by a Polk County small claims judge.

The wage claim case, prosecuted by Iowa Workforce Development (IWD), sought to retrieve $6,166 in wages stolen by Concept Painting & Drywall, owned by Randy Warrens.

Iowa CCI organized with the two workers and used many avenues before IWD brought the case before a judge.  We delivered a letter to Randy Warrens at his house in January asking for a meeting, which Randy refused.  We met with the general contractor on the case, Hubbell Homes, after which they told Randy to stop making his problem their problem. And we brought up the Concept Painting & Drywall case with the Commissioner of Labor Michael Mauro in a meeting in February.

Despite having met yesterday with IWD’s prosecuting attorney Mitchell Mahan, and speaking with him this morning, Warrens failed to appear at today’s hearing. The judge examined the evidence and claims brought by the workers and IWD. In addition to the evidence, seeing that Warrens defaulted on the hearing, the judge concluded that each of the workers should be awarded the sum of $5,000 for liquidative damages. Warrens will also be responsible for all court fees.

“With this victory, employers like Randy will know that workers are not just going to sit down and take abuse,” said Jose, one of the affected workers and an Iowa CCI member. “We will not accept anything other than justice.”

Though it is possible that Concept Painting & Drywall may set aside the default, the judge seemed convinced in standing for worker justice and awarding the workers for their rightful claims.

This win shows that the one-two punch of community organizing and a government that works for people will deliver justice!

Iowa CCI’s worker justice program unites and empowers the community to stand against worker abuse and fight for what’s right. CCI members incessantly work against violations on the job and wage theft. To this day, Iowa CCI has recovered over $135,000 in stolen wages across Iowa.

 

Click “LIKE” and “SHARE” to spread the good news and stand for worker justice!

 

In early February, Iowa CCI and National People’s Action members joined in the 99% Power movement to put the most abusive corporations on notice and delivered letters to let them know we were coming to their shareholder meetings. Wells Fargo reacted to the letter dropped off in Des Moines.

As a result, on Monday, April 2, NPA leaders Iowa CCI, Take Action Minnesota, Rights for All People, and Sunflower Community Action in partnership with Enlace International, SEIU, PICO and New Bottom Line met with Wells Fargo’s head of Social Responsibility, Jon Campbell and three other executives.

All four staff from Wells Fargo came into a full conference room smiling and ready to shake hands. They were met with thirty-two stern faces from across the country, ready to get down to business.

Iowa CCI leader Rosie Partridge moderated, setting a firm, no nonsense tone for the meeting. Fr. Richard Smith from the San Francisco Organizing Project led the opening prayer for all the victims of the current economic crisis and reminding us that this was the holiest of all weeks for many. 

The community leaders put five issues on the table.The question of the day is whether or not Wells Fargo was serious about addressing issues around foreclosures, investments in private prisons and payday lending, money in politics and paying their fair share of taxes.

Overall, the conversation went something like this:

Leaders: Will you stop hurting our communities and be the financial industry leader in social responsibility?

Campbell: NO.

More specifically:

FORECLOSURE:

Fr. Smith asked Mr. Campbell: Will you comprehensibly reduce the principal on all homes under water? Yes or No

Mr. Campbell: NO. We can’t.

PRIVATE PRISON DIVESTMENT: 

After two testimonies were given by leaders from Washington and Colorado,Teresa Molina, a leader from Kansas, asked Mr. Campbell: Will Wells Fargo stop investing in private prisons and profiting off of people’s misery?

(This is the point where they were really fidgeting and looking uncomfortable.)

  • Campbell: I am sorry I cannot commit to that, but I will deliver the message.
  • Rosie: So that is a No.

At this point Teresa Molina held up a stack of hundreds of petitions and walk around the table to Mr. Campbell and said, “These are hundreds of petitions from customers that withdrew their accounts or others that swore never to so business with Wells if you continue to invest in private prisons.” Mr. Campbell reached for the stack, but Ms. Molina did not let go. As they both held the stack of papers, Ms. Molina looked him dead in the eye and asked one last time, “Mr. Campbell, Will you stop investing in private prisons?”

Mr. Campbell: No, I can’t.

Larry Ginter, a farmer from Iowa, then stood up and leaned over to Pepe, who had just given his heartbreaking story and reminded him that “Pontius Pilate also washed his hands of any wrong-doing.”

PAYDAY LOANS:

  • Larry Ginter: Will you divest from and cease offering predatory payday loans?
  • Mr. Campbell: No, we will continue. 

MONEY AND POLITICS:

  • James Cannon: Will you stop funding politicians that hurt our communities?
  • Mr. Campbell: Wells Fargo has a committee of senior official and they contribute to candidates..as a company we want to be part of issues that affect what we do.
  • James Cannon: So that is no?
  • Mr. Campbell: I wouldn’t say it is a no.
  • Rosie Partridge: That’s a no.

FAIR TAXATION:

  • Donna Cassutt. “I paid more in income tax last year as an individual than your entire company.” Wells accepted taxpayer money and you should pay your share. Will you pay your fair share?
  • Campbell: We absolutely will. We pay what we are required to pay.
  • Rosie Partridge: That’s a no.

At this point Mr. Campbell became a little defensive,  “When do we get a chance to speak! I am not used to going into conversations that are one sided.”

Rosie Partridge: You will have a chance, but it looks like we have our answers:

  • NO on Principal reduction
  • NO on Prison divestment
  • NO on Payday lending
  • NO on Getting your money out of politics
  • NO on Paying your real fair share

After thanking them for their time, the Wells Fargo staff all filed out a little quieter and less cheery.

Everyone regrouped and came to the consensus that Wells Fargo only responded to action and resolved to take the message to the shareholder meeting in a few weeks.

But, to let them know we’re not kidding about showing up at their shareholder’s meeting, everyone piled on a school bus, took over the lobby at a Wells Fargo downtown and held a practice shareholder meeting.

During the “meeting” resolutions in our communities favor were passed and everyone went home charged and ready for San Francisco on April 24.

(photo: leaders who met with Wells)

 

>>Contact us to join in the 99% Spring movement to Confront Corporate Power or share your Wells Fargo story.

 

Click LIKE and SHARE to share this meeting with others.

 

On March 6, the Iowa City City Council voted unanimously to consider CCI members’ model zoning ordinance to crack down on predatory payday lending.

This is an important step in our campaign to win local policies that put people first, and it’s because of the hard work of members just like you who called and emailed your councilors, attended meetings and public forums, and stood up and spoke out for what’s right. Thank you!

The Planning and Zoning Commission will now take up our proposal, and in the coming days and weeks we’ll make plans to weigh-in with city staff and the zoning board so they have all the information they need to move forward with the strongest ordinance possible.

We’ll also be convening a community meeting in the next week or two so we can gather our members together, educate ourselves on the issues, and make plans to keep the fires of justice lit underneath the city. Stay tuned.

Thanks again for all your support and hard work. We are making a big difference in Iowa City for economic development and neighborhood revitalization that puts communities before corporations and people before profits.

If you are more interested in getting involved with this issue, contact Iowa City organizer David Goodner at 515.282.0484 or david[at]iowacci.org

Please like or tweet this to share the good news with your friends.

WHEN:   April 14, 2012, 10 am-4 pm

WHERE: Des Moines Central Library

WHY:      Because we need a movement of fearless truth tellers

 

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LINKS:     Logistics      Agenda      Speakers      Buzz

Información en Español

Community, faith, and labor organizations from around the country are calling for a renewed movement of direct action targeting the nation’s most abusive corporations.

We’re calling it the 99% Spring.

The 99% Spring was launched Feb. 15 with this letter signed by over 40 movement leaders and organizations.

This movement will launch in Iowa on April 14. We will join 100,000 people who will gather together across the country that week for a series of trainings, teach-ins, and direct action.

In the spirit of the freedom schools of the civil rights movement and the roving lecturers of the populist movement, we will train ourselves in a new vision for our economy and in the practice of non-violent direct action as a means of realizing this vision.

There is no road to a fair economy and true democracy that does not include going toe-to-toe with abusive corporations.

RSVP online today or contact us at 515-255-0800.

**lunch will be available for $10/person**

 

These Iowans are ready for April 14. Are you?

 

“All social movements in history – from biblical times, to the suffragettes, to the labor movement, to the civil rights – have two things in common: everyday people taking big risks in their own lives and massive non-violent resistance.”

-Nationally-known labor organizer Stephen Lerner to the packed room of CCI members (left) March 14.

 

 

SHARE THE NEWS of this exciting event with your networks by clicking “Like” or “Tweet” below. #99Spring

Salvador Lara’s story has been gaining attention throughout the state with several newspaper articles and hundreds of phone calls and letters on his behalf.  It has brought attention the dark side of President Obama’s immigration program “Secure Communities” and the need for the DREAM Act and humane immigration reform.

Two newspapers ran feature articles:

Times Republican: Support for Salvador: Friends back MHS grad facing deportation

Des Moines Register: Scores in Marshalltown back illegal immigrant who faces big price for a small crime

The Des Moines Register wrote a great staff editorial:

[box] People like Lara show need for reform

He came to U.S. as a child but now faces deportation

Salvador Lara was 14 when his sister brought him to Iowa from the streets of Mexico City.

He didn’t realize he was here illegally. Even children who do understand their immigration status likely don’t understand the implications for the future.

They attend school and play sports and earn money mowing lawns. They go about the business of childhood just like their peers. Then they grow up. And things get more complicated.

You need to prove your identity to move forward in life. Without proper documentation, like a Social Security card or birth certificate, you cannot get some jobs or a driver’s permit or financial aid for college. You realize you have to lie to build any kind of normal life. You tolerate being wronged by landlords or employers or neighbors because you don’t want to come to anyone’s attention.

Though you consider the United States your home, you are forced to live in the shadows as an adult. The fear of deportation always hangs over your head.

Salvador Lara, now 25, has lived in Marshalltown since coming to the U.S.. He is now in the Marshall County Jail facing deportation to Mexico.

His story, recently detailed on the front page of The Des Moines Register, is yet another example of the devastation caused by this country’s immigration laws and Congress’ refusal to enact reform.

Changing immigration law isn’t only about providing people a legal way to enter the United States and work. It’s not just about patrolling the border to catch those sneaking across. It’s about creating a path for people brought to this country illegally as children to gain legal status and remain.

Many Washington lawmakers say they sympathize with people like Lara. Unfortunately, they don’t support policies to help them. The U.S. government has, in some ways, made matters worse with initiatives like Secure Communities.

The program allows police to compare the fingerprints of people in local jails against a federal immigration database. Public support is widespread when people with extensive criminal records are nabbed.

But Lara wasn’t a felon. He didn’t have a lengthy record. Instead, he was charged with fifth-degree theft after he picked up and kept a money bag that he found in a parking lot.

He was fined $85. But he was snared by the Secure Communities program. Now he waits to join the nearly 170,000 other people in this country who have been deported since the program’s inception.

More than 150 people in Marshalltown have written letters or called immigration authorities on Lara’s behalf. His high school teachers remember him as a leader dedicated to learning English. He’s been a soccer coach and a caregiver for a dying family member and has worked in restaurants.

He said he refused to buy fake papers to help him get a job in a meatpacking plant because he didn’t want to steal anyone’s identity. “If you’re going to commit a crime to get a job, I’d rather not do it,” he said.

Being deported means he will have to leave his family and the country he knows best and go back to Mexico, where he says he doesn’t have family.

Lara is not a bad person. He is yet another example of why humane and sensible immigration reform is overdue.

– Des Moines Register Staff Editorial, March 2, 2012 [/box]

 

Pass these stories on to your friends and family! They are good examples of why we need human immigration reform, not unforgiving enforcement-only programs.