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Here are two stories from Working America field staff whose work focuses on building locally-based networks of activists for a just economy in cities around the country.

Chase Brandau recounts the story of a Minnesota woman who told him "without a job, I don't have a purpose."

She was describing how her life has changed since she had lost her job almost two years ago. Gretchen used to work as a cook at a public school, but was laid-off due to budget cutbacks. Now she is forced to rent out rooms in her house and survive on a $119/week unemployment check, which is set to expire in three months. What she has been through this last two years, echoes what millions of Americans are also suffering through and Gretchen knows this.

What is amazing about Gretchen is that she has decided to take action by sharing her story with the rest of Minnesota today. She had the courage to take center stage at the Minnesota AFL-CIO’s Legislative Agenda press conference and tell her story to a room full of strangers, cameras and reporters.

She had never done anything like this before today. Wouldn’t even consider herself an activist. But today, she decided to become one, because she understood how many others out there do not have a voice right now and she doesn’t want to sit on the sidelines any longer.

This is what Working America is achieving. By reaching the people who feel they do not have a voice and giving them the opportunities to be heard. That is what allows people like Gretchen to take that step from being a victim to being an activist.

"I’m just the common person that needs to be heard," she said. "I’m not the only one that is going through this. All I need is a job to get back on my feet."

Jihad Seifullah reports from Ohio:

Even before taking office, Ohio’s Governor Kasich made his attacks on working families clear: he announced his opposition to working people having a voice on the job, and to standards that maintain good wages and quality construction for building projects. He is currently cramming RobsOhio (aka Jobs Ohio) through the Ohio legislature, an initiative that would create a slippery extra-governmental entity to dole out corporate welfare while avoiding disclosure rules... a corporate lobbyists dream. At the same time, he has openly threatened anyone opposing his agenda, saying "If you’re not on the bus, we will run over you with the bus. And I’m not kidding."

Governor Kasich is deliberately creating a highly partisan climate of fear for working people in the state, and we are seeing that reflected in our conversations in the community. As he has said, if you speak up, he will run you over. We have seen a significant number of workers who are upset about Governor Kasich’s agenda, but don’t want to discuss it publicly out of fear of retaliation.

Here’s one particularly stark example: just the other evening I was speaking with a civil engineer who was very displeased with the agenda that Governor Kasich is moving forward. In fact, it’s very likely that he may be laid off due to Kasich’s decision to send $400 million for rail infrastructure and jobs back to the federal government of which had previously been approved for Ohio. To add salt to the wound, the member also mentioned that he is currently working three jobs. He said "I’m a civil engineer and I have to work three jobs, did you hear me...I’m a civil engineer." This worker, like many others, prefers to remain anonymous because of the threats that have been made.

So we’ll make the point for them: the middle class is under attack and it is eroding away. Governor Kasich is helping that process along by fostering corporate cronyism while lowering living standards for working families in Ohio. He has threatened anyone who stands up to him. When it is too dangerous to stand up alone, it is all the more important for all of us to stand up together.

Originally posted to Laura at Working America on Wed Feb 09, 2011 at 01:25 PM PST.

Also republished by Jobs Wages and Community Investment Working Group.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Kasich made it completely clear (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      judyms9, Tom Taaffe

      during the campaign that this is what he intended to do. He never hid any of his nastiness, mean-spiritedness, ideological rigidity, and intention to gut the state and hand over every last bit of its resources to his cronies. He's even said that he was going to "fix things" in a single term and not run again. What he really mean was that he was planning a four-year power looting spread, taking the money and running back to Fox "News," and leaving behind a pile of smoking wreckage.

      Voters were either so distressed by the economy they weren't paying attention, or they were relying on Ohio's daily "news" papers, which covered up all of this and endorsed Kasich — and now even they are starting to panic at what they created. Tough shit, guys — I hope Cleveland becomes the first major city without a daily newspaper. You guys don't deserve to keep publshing.

      Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

      by anastasia p on Wed Feb 09, 2011 at 04:23:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Obam obliterated his voting base (0+ / 0-)

        leaving a steaming mass of angry, alienated voters where his supporters used to be. Republicans ran against Obama and had a field day, because Obama saved the rich and fucked everyone in economic danger.

        He did it again yesterday when he proposed cutting fuel assistance in half in the middle of a fucking depression and in the middle of the worst winter in decades.

        How does any democrat win an election when the head of his party is so phenomenally arrogant, politically stupid, callous, insular and dialed out from reality?

        This man is stinking up the room......... we need a new presidential candidate or the next election will be a disaster.

  •  They are destroying the working and middle (4+ / 0-)

    class.  The mantra today is no more union jobs, no more pensions.  They are coming after anything they can get their greedy hands on.  The most frightening thing of all is how many of these people now hold office in this country.  They are in cahoots with the corporatists and wealthy in a very real effort to disinfranchise as much of the population as possible.  Docile, underpaid workers (grateful for any job at all) is their goal.  They want to do away with benefits, pensions, and health care.  They are out to dismantle the American way of life that the New Deal created.  The Democrats in office are failing to protect that way of life.  Obama is failing to protect that way of life.

    •  Even worse, Kasich gave handsome raises (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to his personal staff, at the very time he was bitching that rank-and-file government workers made too much on the taxpayers' backs. Well, frankly, as an Ohio taxpayer, I am livid at the nearly $50,000 a year increase in the chief of staff's salary over the last governor's. How do I get out of paying that? I have NEVER made that much in total in a year in my entire life.

      Jennifer Brunner for Governor of Ohio 2014

      by anastasia p on Wed Feb 09, 2011 at 04:25:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Kasich is doing a one-term blitz for two reasons: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Noor B, Had Enough Right Wing BS

    He knows he will never be re-elected after his policies are implemented, and he's hoping to be available for a VP slot in 2012 or a cabinet appointment if the GOP wins the White House.  He's a bloodless critter who's figured out upward mobility in a thoroughly corrupted system.

  •  thanks (0+ / 0-)

    John KKKasich, R-OH-gov hates black people, women, and children.

    by OHknighty on Thu Feb 10, 2011 at 09:04:30 AM PST

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