Posted by: Amelia on 12/17/2014

Ponsella Hardaway, executive director of Detroit affilitate, MOSES, is one of 31 members of the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren - Photo by Paul Engstrom, The Skillman Foundation

Ponsella Hardaway, executive director of Detroit affiliate MOSES, is one of 31 members of a new coalition announced December 11 to explore solutions for problems facing Detroit’s Public School System.

“We’re not naïve and we don’t believe that this will be solved overnight, but we believe everybody has a role in this,” Coalition co-chair, Reverend Wendell Anthony told The Detroit Free Press. 

The Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren is 31 business, civic, and education leaders who have pledged to present thoughtful and effective recommendations to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in three months.

“One of the things I like [about the coalition] in particular though: it’s a community conversation” Snyder told reporters.

According to the Skillman Foundation, the Coalition includes business leaders, education reform activists, parent leaders, teachers, principals, and union representatives. The Coalition’s work will primarily focus on the city’s charter sector, Detroit Public Schools, and the Education Achievement Authority. In addition, its members will examine how the city’s fragmented school systems impact student outcomes and efficiency in operations, and are committed to exploring and learning from education experts from Detroit and across the nation to find the best solutions.

The Coalition will meet with members of the community to discuss everything from academics to financials. Since the city’s official emergence from bankruptcy on December 10, more and more community members have turned their attention towards the education system, which has been facing falling enrollment, corruption, and a mounting deficit for years. 

--Amelia Sisk
Posted by: Amelia on 11/25/2014

Tom Hoffman and PIIN leaders Rev. Ron Wanless and Tassi Bisers spoke at a rally this week before a hearing on charges stemming from July arrests 

Three months after an action at which Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network organizer Sue Thorn and three other leaders were arrested, the National Labor Relations Board weighed in on the side of workers seeking a living wage.

“This is a major victory and step in our journey towards holding UPMC accountable,” PIIN said in a statement. “We know that the fight isn’t over. And together we will continue fighting until UPMC does right by our city.”

The National Labor Relations Board issued a court order last week to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center or UPMC –Pittsburgh’s largest employer -- to reinstate four workers whom the company had fired after they advocated for a union inside the medical center.

One of the fired workers, Jim Staus, was receiving $11.81 per hour, just a bit over minimum wage, despite having worked for the company for 7 years. Working for below a living wage forced his family to rely on food stamps and second-hand stores for food and clothing.

“If your neighbor isn’t making a living wage, then that impacts everybody,” Thorn said. She said PIIN continues to support UPMC workers in their campaign.

One worker, Ron Oaks, was fired twice and rehired the first time after a settlement agreement between UPMC and the Service Employees International Union. He will be rehired for a second time and receive back pay in accordance with the court order from the NLRB. The three other fired employees will also be rehired and receive back pay.

The UPMC says it plans to appeal to the full Labor Board. They say they will also be exploring additional legal options. 

Yesterday's hearings resulted in 20 hours of community service for those arrested. The charges were dropped.

Posted by: Amelia on 11/14/2014

Senator Andy Manar speaks at a news conference in Springfield on October 14

The leaders of Faith Coalition for the Common Good have gathered hundreds of signatures in support of increasing federal hiring goals for women and people of color. 

On the 49th anniversary of President Johnson drafting an executive order to outline those goals in October, Faith Coalition leaders also held a news conference at the site of a construction project connected to their city’s planned high-speed railroad. 

Initiatives to encourage economic development and job creation as part of the construction project that have been spearheaded by Faith Coalition have been in the works for nearly five years, when they first began drafting the Community Benefits Agreement. 

Federal labor guidelines only require that 4.5 percent of those hired in projects such as the high-speed railroad implementation be minority workers and only 6.9 percent be women. But FCCG campaign organizer, Irma Wallace, describes these numbers as being “low and unacceptable” due to the fact that Congress has not revisited such guidelines since 1979 under President Carter.  

The numbers haven’t changed, but the face of Springfield has, according to Wallace, and dramatically so, reflecting a more racially diverse city than ever before making these guidelines “shameful to be that low.” 

The event received significant news coverage:

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