A new report released today by Iowa CCI national ally National People’s Action has some alarming statistics for Iowa.

 

FIND THE NEW REPORT HERE:
PROFITING FROM POVERTY.PDF

 

 

The report shows that:

  • capping payday loan interest rates at 36 percent would save Iowans over $36 million every year. (That’s $36 MILLION that is being stripped away from our local economy!)
  • there are 220 payday lenders in Iowa. (There are more payday lending shops than there are McDonald’s in Iowa!)
  • nearly half of all licensed payday lenders in Iowa have been financed by big banks. Wells Fargo and Bank of America are the top financiers of payday lending across the country.

Payday loans, widely available in 32 states, online, and increasingly by banks as well, are short-term small dollar loans averaging less than $400 but charging annualized interest rates of 400% or more. Efforts to cap the rates on these loans have stalled in the Iowa legislature for the past several years.

“If you want to talk about creating jobs in Iowa, let’s talk about putting more cash in the hands of consumers,” said CCI member Judy Lonning from Des Moines, “Let’s talk about lifting people of out of poverty instead of profiting off their crises.”

Major findings of “Profiting from Poverty”:

  • Record payday loan revenue: Nationwide, revenues for the major payday loan companies (Advance America, EZ Corp, First Cash Financial, Dollar Financial, Cash America, QC Holdings) have risen to their highest level – $1.48 Billion per year- more than before the financial crisis. Revenue from payday lending for the six largest payday lenders nationwide has increased a net 2.6% over the last four years (2007 to 2010).
  • Consumers pay billions in fees: Low and moderate-income borrowers pay minimum of $3.5 Billion in fees annually to payday lenders charging triple digit interest rates on small cash loans. The nation’s biggest banks fund a major segment of the payday lending industry that collects more than $1.5 Billion in fees from payday lending.
  • Stopping excessive interest rates can put money into our local economies: If payday loans charged only 36% in interest rates, instead of an average of 400%, payday loan borrowers could save over $3.1 billion annually.

The Bottom Line:

Because of the economic crisis we are facing, affordable solutions for people who seek and need these types of loans are necessary. Iowa CCI members call on the Iowa Senate Commerce Committee to pass SF 388, a bill designed to cap interest rates at 36%.

 

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Congratulations!  We are excited to report that your work has taken a slice of The Nation magazine’s Most Valuable Progressive recognition for the third year in a row.

John Nichol’s writes: “What a difference a year makes! … This year we celebrate the remarkable movements that have arisen not just to stem the conservative tide but to build a new vision of progressivism for the twenty-first century. … The events of 2011 did not transform America. But they did confirm that millions of Americans are ready to fight for the 99 percent.”

Read The Nation’s full Progressive Honor Roll of 2011 here.

Iowa CCI’s recognition below:

MOST VALUABLE CONFRONTATION: Iowa CCI

 

When Mitt Romney came to the Iowa State Fair, he tried to peddle the fantasy that entitlement cuts are needed because the only alternative is to raise taxes on Americans. But his framing of a false choice failed when activists from Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement hollered that we should “tax corporations.” Unnerved, Romney shot back, “Corporations are people, my friend.” “No, they’re not!” shouted the Iowa CCI crowd. “Of course they are,” replied Romney, who didn’t seem to realize he was embracing his own stereotype. In 2011 conservative candidates thought they could use Iowa as a backdrop for their extremist pitches. Iowa CCI didn’t let them get away with it—providing a model for how grassroots activists can mic-check even the most powerful politicians.

We’d like to think The Nation feels this way because they know, like we do, that the history of significant change in this country is based on organized action. And organized action is what Iowa CCI does best. Thanks to you our members and supporters for being a part of it.

 

CCI allies made the Honor Roll, too!:

  • The New Bottom Line coalition, of which Iowa CCI is a member, was recognized as Most Valuable Coalition for their work to build a broad and powerful push for a “new bottom line that puts the economic interests and financial security of working American families first” — before Wall Street profit that is.
  • And, Beat the Press, the work of populist economist Dean Baker, who spoke at our statewide convention in July was named Most Valuable News Source.

 

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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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You and I both know factory farms pollute our air and water and ruin our quality of life.

But does the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)know that?

Tell the EPA today to collect information on factory farms.

Thanks to a recent lawsuit settlement with national environmental groups, the EPA has agreed to start collecting more information about factory farms – such as where they are located, how many animals they have, and where they spread their manure.

Unlike other industries enforced under the 36 year old Clean Water Act, the factory farm industry does not have to regularly report this information – and corporate ag interests would like to keep it that way.

Help us make sure the EPA collects as much detailed information as possible! Click here to contact EPA today and tell them the real story about the impact of factory farm pollution.

EPA is taking public comments on how they collect this information until December 20. This is an important step forward in getting the EPA to crack down on factory farms and clean up our waterways.

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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.