Organized by the National Nurses Association, registered nurses from around the country marched on Wall Street today to protest the inherent unfairness of Wall Street brokers making off with billions in bonuses and unpaid taxes, while nurses - people who do tangible, valuable work for the rich and poor alike - struggle to put a roof over their heads or put gas in the tank to go to work.The nurses are promoting the Main Street Contract, a seven point resolution to restore fairness to American society:
- Jobs at living wages, reinvesting in America.
- Equal access to quality, public education.
- Guaranteed healthcare for all.
- A secure retirement, with the ability to retire in dignity.
- Good housing and protection from hunger.
- A safe, clean, and healthy environment.
- A just taxation system where corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share.
Watch the video to find out more about why nurses are marching today:
As we mentioned last week, janitors planned to lead rallies around the country to mark the anniversary of a 1990 Century City march stopped short by police brutality. The workers didn't just aim to commemorate those injured in the march, or even the organizing victory that followed soon after. They also hoped to raise awareness of sliding standards of living for people who work incredibly hard for a living with little recognition or compensation.In Los Angeles, 1,000 janitors and supporters gathered along the streets next to the Los Angeles County Art Museum, looping all the way around the block until ending with a rally in the museum park.In New York, hundreds gathered along Fifth Avenue in the shadow of the skyscrapers they help to keep clean. In Connencticut, workers rallied in front of the Government Center. In New Jersey, janitors walked off the job to protest low wages and poor working conditions. All told, janitors and their supporters rallied in 15 cities across the country.Many of the workers pointed out the desperate need for immigration reform due to the development of an underground economy that exploits undocumented workers and pushes down wages and working conditions for everyone. Sadly, janitors clean up at companies who are making record profits, while the janitors themselves make in some instances as low as $312 a week after taxes working a full time job... after years of experience.Organizers stressed the need to stick together to fight back against corporate greed, anti-labor policies emanating from state capitals around the country, and a disturbing trend towards unregulated temp agencies that skirt minimum wage and fair labor laws.
Today, the US Supreme Court released its decision on the landmark class-action gender discrimination case against WalMart. Ten years ago, 6 women brought a discrimination case against WalMart, alleging that the company had systematically denied them promotions and wage increases based on prejudice against their gender. Thousands more joined the lawsuit once they discovered that someone was bringing a case against treatment that resembled what they had received.Unfortunately, the corporate majority on the Supreme Court dismissed the case, not only barring the women from filing the lawsuit as a major class-action case, but also making it more difficult in the future for any large group of people aggrieved by a massive corporation from gaining restitution.Class action lawsuits make it easier for people harmed by a large corporation, often by employment practices like racial or gender discrimination, to pool enough resources to stand a chance against a well-heeled team of corporate lawyers. Unbelievably, the 5-4 majority decided that the women, who provided a vast array of statistical and anecdotal information to support the case that they were discriminated against precisely because they were women, could not be considered a "class" for the purposes of bundling their lawsuits together into a single case.Now WalMart and large corporations will have a much easier time dissuading and discouraging lawsuits, whatever their merit, because of the high bar set against people joining together to press a legal case.Tomorrow, June 21, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the National Organization of Women and the National Women's Law Center, outraged by WalMart's well-documented poor treatment of women, are sponsoring rallies in Boston, New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Philadelphia. If you are in the vicinity of any of those rallies, you are encouraged to show your support.The Supreme Court did not rule whether or not Walmart discriminated against any of the women who joined the case, merely that they lacked the ability to join the class action lawsuit. The women who originally filed the lawsuit plan to continue their battle in court for fair treatment.
How many times have we heard this story? A woman falls behind on her house payments due to a medical emergency that forces time off from work and racks up huge medical bills. The bank moves in on the house, refusing to make any reasonable modifications on the loan, and forces the woman from her home.That's what happened to South Berkeley, CA resident Tanya Dennis. Dennis, a former vice principal at local Castlemont High School, fell behind on her payments to Wells Fargo after major surgery on her back kept her out of work and deep in debt. Even with decades of making payments, the bank foreclosed on her and called in the sheriff to evict her, putting her out on the street with few possessions.Ordinarily, the story fades out here, with the erstwhile homeowner picking up the pieces somewhere else. But Tanya Dennis didn't go that route. Instead, she called a locksmith, changed the locks and opened the door back into her own home. Stripped bare when the lender sold everything left in the house after eviction, including carpeting, Dennis still has her home back, pending the outcome of a federal lawsuit against Wells Fargo, who securitized the home loan and can't even prove that it owns the note.Ironically, Wells Fargo received around $25 billion in direct cash from the federal government as part of the bank bailout along with preferential rule changes that allow it to gobble up other banks, also worth around $25 billion. The bailout money was supposed to allow Wells Fargo to stay afloat and to ease the pain of homeowners facing the twin jobs and foreclosure crises. Instead, it allowed Wells Fargo to purchase other banks and financial firms, including troubled Wachovia.It's not only Dennis that would get a happy ending if she got her home back with a loan modification allowing her to pay a reasonable mortgage payment tied to the actual value of the home. People living on her street would have another neighbor to watch out for crime, to pick up litter in the street and in the yard, and to ultimately help keep their own home value up. And Wells Fargo themselves would benefit. They would keep a steady income from mortgage payments on the home, even if reduced, rather than letting the house sit empty, weeds growing in the yard, while they try to sell the foreclosure in a severely depressed housing market.If you want to take action and help Tanya, click here to send a letter to Wells Fargo from our friends at the Alliance of Californians for Community Improvement and the Home Defenders League.