Building a Movement to Put People First!

Put People First partners marching on May Day

Since the founding of the Vermont Workers’ Center in 1999, it was clear that making the change we needed would ultimately require going beyond local fights to secure dignity in the workplace. In 2008 we launched the Healthcare is a Human Right campaign, aiming for a universal, publicly-financed healthcare system for all residents of Vermont.

While the Workers’ Center and our allies were successful in passing Act 48 in 2011, setting Vermont on course towards providing healthcare as a public good, we saw that decision-makers were all too willing to pit healthcare against other human rights like education, housing, a healthy environment, and good jobs.

In response, the Workers’ Center joined with our allies in 2012 to host a People’s Convention for Human Rights in Burlington, drawing over five hundred people from across the state and resulting in the formation of the Vermont Human Rights Council, an alliance of grassroots groups organizing to build a movement for people and the planet. 2012 also marked a victory for our People’s Budget campaign, when we passed a new provision to the state budget statute specifying that public money must be raised and distributed with an explicit focus on people's fundamental needs and towards advancing human dignity and equity.

Since 2012, together with our Human Rights Council allies -- including Migrant Justice, Vermont Center for Independent Living, Green Mountain Self-Advocates, Rising Tide Vermont and 350-Vermont -- we’ve supported demonstrations, organized strategic dialogues, published reports, and have worked together to articulate a common vision of Vermont where we can live with human rights and dignity.