End of year message from Vermont Workers' Center President Ellen Schwartz
A couple of weeks ago I was canvassing about healthcare in Brattleboro with members of my local Organizing Committee. In home after home we met people who were barely getting by, some of whom were underinsured, others of whom were paying the penalty because they couldn’t afford the premiums on Vt Health Connect. We met folks who rely on the free clinic, which is open only one evening a week. People talked about their work at seasonal jobs, low-wage jobs, and jobs where they feel disrespected because of their low status in the pecking order. We talked with people with disabilities, anxious about what their lives will be like if vital services are cut.
This is the current reality, and we are all anticipating major attacks and rollbacks under the new administration. With so much at stake, it is tempting to go on the defensive. While it is certainly crucial to protect hard-fought gains, that is not enough. We cannot let despair cause us to settle for crumbs and rob us of our vision of the world we know is possible: a world in which each one of us is able to live and work in dignity. Among the people I have canvassed, when asked about their hopes, many spoke movingly not only about themselves and their families, but their hopes for their community and the wider world. It is that vision that fuels my commitment to keep organizing. It’s what reminds me that organizing at its best releases our human capacity to care for each other, to attend to each other with love.