Grassroots Voices for
Economic Justice

a project of the Center for Community Change Action

Jane Addams Senior Caucus (IL)

Illinois groups call for People’s Agenda, protest Governor’s budget plan

Illinois groups call for People’s Agenda, protest Governor’s budget plan

On February 16, Jane Addams Senior Caucus (JASC) and ONE Northside joined a coalition of organizations in presenting the “People’s Agenda,” — an alternative to Governor Bruce Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda” — which calls for higher tax rates on the wealthy and a new tax on stock trades, and would spend the money on programs like universal pre-K and combating homelessness .  The day after presenting the alternative budget, Grassroots Ambassadors and other leaders from JASC and ONE Northside traveled from Chicago to Springfield as part of the Grassroots Collaborative on  to protest another budget address by Gov. Rauner, calling for the state to pass a budget with new revenue so that all Illinoisans can live with dignity. The groups staged a “die-in” to show the casualties of the revenue crisis and again called for a fair tax on the wealthy and corporations in order to close the budget shortfall. Check out the Storify of their action.

Chicago grassroots leader’s Social Security story featured in NYTimes

Chicago grassroots leader’s Social Security story featured in NYTimes

Sara Moore works with the Jane Addams Senior Caucus.  Her story was previously featured as part of our “Faces of Social Security” campaign and in the 2014 Caregiver Storybook.

Her story was featured in the October 17 edition of the NYTimes as part of an important article about Social Security.  See below.

Retirees’ Futures Hinge on Candidates’ Plans for Social Security

At 81, Sara Moore still occasionally drives five blocks to the grocery store in her 1993 Buick, which her son had painted pink for breast cancer awareness. She is a survivor.

She also survives on a Social Security check of just $984 a month. After rent and cable television, she said her largest expense was food. She hunts for specials, like the 10 frozen Lean Cuisine dinners she recently bought for $10. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a splurge, but she said she skips extras like ice cream.

“I just manage,” said Ms. Moore, of Chicago, who was a certified nursing assistant before her cancer was diagnosed in 2001. After all her monthly bills are paid — she also receives food deliveries from a local pantry — she has roughly $50 left.

Like Ms. Moore, millions of retirees rely heavily on modest checks from Social Security. The average monthly benefit is $1,337, and about 64 percent of beneficiaries older than 65 receive at least half of their income from the program, according to the Social Security Administration. For nearly half of unmarried beneficiaries, it accounts for a whopping 90 percent of income.

Continue reading article…

Social Security Anniversary celebration in Chicago

Social Security Anniversary celebration in Chicago

Leaders from Jane Addams Senior Caucus and ONE Northside celebrated Social Security’s 80th birthday on August 14 by educating Chicagoans on the truth about Social Security. Then we took a poster with signatures supporting PROTECTING AND EXPANDING Social Security to our Senator.

Social Security has never missed a payment in 80 years! It will remain solvent for another 2 decades with no changes, and is well funded with $2.79 trillion in its Trust–a fund completely separate from general spending. Some leaders in Congress want to dismantle Social Security and change it into a private retirement system that will benefit corporate interest, not the people. We need to PROTECT AND EXPAND Social Security!

Act today! Senator Mark Kirk: 312-886-3506, and Senator Dick Durbin 312-353-4952.

Social Security Birthday and Pressuring Senators in Illinois

Social Security Birthday and Pressuring Senators in Illinois

From the Jane Addams Senior Caucus:

Happy 79th Birthday Social Security! Call your Senators today so that they cosponsor the Strengthening Social Security Act!

Today JASC members and supporters are calling our elected officials to sign on to the Strengthening Social Security Act! This act would make sure that seniors have enough money each year to pay for the essentials that they need, like rising medical costs. And it would ensure that everyone pays their fair share based on their income.

In celebration of Social Security’s birthday, call your Illinois Senators TODAY to ask them to sign on to the Strengthening Social Security Act (S. 567).

Senator Dick Durbin: 217-492-4062
Senator Mark Kirk: 217-492-5089

Meeting with Congresswoman Schakowsky

Meeting with Congresswoman Schakowsky

On April 22, Grassroots Ambassadors from ONE Northside and Jane Addams Senior Caucus (JASC) met with Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) in Chicago about the caregiver bill and other aspects of retirement security.

Missouri and Illinois Ambassadors train in St. Louis

Missouri and Illinois Ambassadors train in St. Louis

On March 29-30 in St. Louis, around 40 grassroots ambassadors from four organizations in Missouri and Illinois came together for two days to deepen their knowledge and skills around retirement security.  Many participants commented on how much the group was racially diverse and intergenerational, with participants as young as 22 and as old as 90 (Al from Illinois, who said in the opening that “my friends tell me I don’t look a day over 89!”)

A new interactive training on the “3-legged stool of retirement” was led entirely by Ambassadors from GRO-Grassroots Organizing, while CCC staff used the opportunity to test our our new messaging memo — connecting retirement security and economic justice — during a spokesperson training with experienced ambassadors.  On Sunday the group supported GRO and Metropolitan Congregations United (MCU) by collecting hundreds of signatures across the city for a statewide ballot initiative that would expand democracy by bringing early voting to Missouri.

 

JASC Thanks Rep. Quigley for standing up for Social Security

JASC Thanks Rep. Quigley for standing up for Social Security

quigley2Jane Addams Senior Caucus leader Jennifer and JASC intern Ajla, both constituents of Congressman Quigley’s, dropped by his district office. They spoke with his staff and left a giant thank you card for the Congressman’s commitment to retirement security in signing on to H.R.3118, the Strengthening Social Security Act.

Groups from across US participate in successful Retirement Security convening

Groups from across US participate in successful Retirement Security convening

From December 9-11 nearly 90 people — primarily grassroots leaders but also staff from CCC and partner organizations — came together in Washington DC to advance our retirement security campaign.  Approximately 20 organizations from 16 states took part in the national convening which included some dynamic panel discussions, multiple protest actions, a press conference with the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and a meeting with one of our biggest Social Security champions, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.  In addition to the many state-based organizations — from Washington CAN in the Northwest to the Federation of Child Care Centers of Alabama in the Southeast — seven leaders from the Manufactured Homeowner project also participated in the training, coming from Utah, Pennsylvania and Florida.

RS Meeting 1The gathering kicked off on Monday night with an exercise led by Akiba Bird, director of North Carolina Fair Share, that included drumming and chants and allowed participants to get to know each other and our shared values.  We were then joined by Sarita Gupta, the ED of Jobs with Justice and a leader of the Caring Across Generations campaign, who talked about ways to better connect our respective struggles.

The next morning, it was the Grassroots Ambassadors themselves who took center stage, speaking at two separate panels about the successes and challenges over the course of the 2013 campaign to strengthen Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  IMG_20131210_094144We were also joined by various leaders from national partner organizations: Alex Lawson of Social Security Works; Terry O’Neil of the National Organization of Women; Maya Rockeymoore of Global Policy Solutions; and John Adler of SEIU.  We wrapped up the day by digging into our 2014 program and strategy and preparing ourselves for the next year of battle.

December 11 was our day to hit the streets. The full group arrived early to the Capital Visitors Center for a meeting with Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio.  It was an opportunity to thank one of the emerging Social Security champions as well as share stories and strategies.  Next up was a protest action outside the office of the think tank Third Way which has been on the attack against Social Security and progressive Democrats like Brown and Elizabeth Warren who have called for expanding the system (watch video of the action here.)

IMG_20131211_145959Throughout the afternoon leaders met with their respective Representatives and Senators on Capital Hill, and the gathering culminated with a successful press conference organized by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.  Members Raul Grijalva, Keith Ellison and Jan Schakowsky stood alongside leaders from Illinois, Washington, North Carolina and Montana to talk about the need to hold the line against cuts to social programs and continue the fight for a better budget deal.  Check out pictures of the press conference as well as the rest of the convening here.

Senator Brown with leaders from Ohio
Senator Brown with leaders from Ohio

 

Illinois Ambassadors target Durbin and Kirk

Illinois Ambassadors target Durbin and Kirk

Jane Addams Senior Caucus (JASC) is collecting postcard to tell Senators Durbin & Kirk: Stand Against Cuts to Social Security!!!

Seniors and allies collect postcards to be sent to our senators around the importance of protecting and strengthening Social Security.

Seniors and allies collect postcards to be sent to our senators around the importance of protecting and strengthening Social Security.

Clergy, Community to Congress: Governing from Crisis to Crisis is Immoral, Raise Revenue

Clergy, Community to Congress: Governing from Crisis to Crisis is Immoral, Raise Revenue

North side clergy convened on October 17 to call on Congress to raise more revenue and break the cycle of fabricated crises.

 CHICAGO – On October 17, ten clergy members from Chicago’s north side stood with over a dozen seniors and community members to respond to the fiscal negotiations that were passed late Wednesday night. They called on Congress to stop governing from crisis to crisis and pass a budget that raises revenue and invests in America.

vigil3Father Dom Grassi of St. Gertrude Catholic Parish said, “We got through today, we avoided a default that would have sent shock waves throughout the global economy and we reopened the government. But we will be back in this position in three months unless Congress passes a budget that brings in new revenue. That is what they must do! It’s time for corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share!”

Ann Marie Cunningham and Victor McWilliams from Jane Addams Senior Caucus discussed upcoming proposals to cut Social Security. Last week, a letter signed by 50 Congresspeople outlined the changes they would like to make to America’s greatest anti-poverty program. These changes include raising the retirement age and using a new formula to calculate cost of living adjustments. Ann Marie Cunningham said, “Every few months we talk about cutting Social Security; that is unfair to the seniors whose stability depends on it and who have paid into it their whole lives. Now is the time to strengthen the program not cut it. We must raise revenue so the so-called budget crisis is no longer an excuse to slash senior’s retirement security.” The speakers made reference to Senator Harkin’s Strengthening Social Security Act of 2013, which would extend the life of the Social Security trust fund and improve benefits for seniors.

vigil10“The fiscal deal just prolongs the ongoing debate in Congress about who pays in this country. It is time to take Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid off the chopping block; it is time to close off shore corporate tax loopholes, and it is time to pass a financial transactions tax on Wall Street,” said Reverend Rachelle Brown, pastor of A Church for Me: Metropolitan Community Church in Rogers Park. “This is what we need to rebuild our country, to get our neighbors back to work, and to live in a society that recognizes the dignity and humanity of the most vulnerable members of our community.” The pastor was referring to Senator Levin’s Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, which would generate $220 billion over 10 years, and Representative Ellison’s Inclusive Prosperity Act, which would generate up to $350 billion per year by placing a small tax on Wall Street transactions.

“Today, we demand that Government end this cycle of governing from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis. As the religious community, we call on Congress to act in the interest of the most vulnerable. Our scriptures tell us to care for the most vulnerable members of our community, not to use them as pawns in a political game,” said Pastor Fred Kinsey of Unity Lutheran Church in Edgewater.

The press conference was organized by ONE Northside and Jane Addams Senior Caucus. It is part of ongoing campaigns by economic and racial justice groups National People’s Action and Center for Community Change and their affiliates to stop brutal budget cuts harming America’s most vulnerable – from seniors to veterans and from low-income communities to people of color. The goals are to shift the debate from cuts to potential revenue and to enhance Social Security rather than cut benefits.

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