We Cannot Let Despair Win

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.

VWC President's Address, November 2016

VWC President Ellen SchwartzIn the wake of the election, a lot of FB friends posted Joe Hill’s exhortation: “Don’t mourn. Organize.” And my response was: Do mourn. And organize like hell. Mourning is an act of shared support in the face of deep sorrow. I, for one, need to allow myself to feel the sorrow, and the anger. The fear, especially for those among us who are and will be most targeted...

We need to commit to wielding our campaign to build a stronger and larger base, to building network power with other grassroots organizations. We also need to commit to having each others’ backs and to understanding the pain that so many people are feeling -- including the pain that led many white working-class people to vote for Trump.

Workers' Center Condemns Attack on School in Brazil

Yesterday morning, police and military forces raided the National School Florestan Fernandes (ENFF) in Brazil, an agro-ecology school where a Workers’ Center Coordinating Committee member is currently studying, along with other grassroots leaders from the US and around the world.

Please take a moment to call the Brazilian Embassy and the US State Department to demand that the police and military stand down, stop their attack on the MST and ENFF, release any activists who have been arrested, and cease intimidation tactics:

Brazilian Embassy: (202) 238-2700
U.S. State Department: (202) 647-6575

Vermont Workers' Center releases report on "Inequality in Vermont"

Today the Vermont Workers' Center released a new report, entitled Inequality in Vermont, which highlights personal stories of the human rights crisis against the backdrop of growing inequality in our state. Focusing in particular on health, workplace, and discrimination-related injustices, the report makes a moral case for ensuring economic and social rights for everyone in Vermont through universal, public goods and dignified work.

United Against the Rate Hikes!

July 20th & 21st, MVP Healthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont testified in front of the Green Mountain Care Board about their proposed health insurance rate hikes of up to 10% (BCBS) and 13% (MVP) for next year’s Vermont Health Connect plans. But company lawyers weren’t the only ones VWC President Ellen Schwartz testifying at the Green Mountain Care Board- Click for videotestifying.

Victory to the Verizon workers!

Solidarity with Verizon workers!Last week, the largest strike in recent US history ended in victory for Verizon workers. While workers in Vermont weren't on strike, VWC members joined solidarity pickets in Burlington at the Verizon store, part of a national solidarity effort to pressure the company to negotiate in good faith.