Bucks County has a progressive future
Welcome to my first post!
Bucks County progressives often don’t get the coverage or credit they deserve. That’s about to change.
The Bucks County Courier Times and The Intelligencer are striving for political equity on their editorial pages by creating a space for a progressive voice to offset pro-Trump Dom Giordano’s column, which readers like myself have had to endure for the last year and a half. The editor has asked me to fill that spot with a column every two weeks and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Now Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District is definitely purple.
And I’d be remiss not to mention Bucks County’s deep red blotch, as seen from the scores of locals who boarded buses to Washington on Jan. 6 to join a march advertised to start at the “National Mall and proceed to the Capitol for Electoral votes” that turned into an insurrection, the now shuttered local People 4 Trump organization, and local officials like Joan Cullen.
But what makes Bucks County purple is a dynamic, growing, bright blue progressive movement.
The Bucks County Peace Center, the Rainbow Room, Lower Bucks for Change, Earth Quaker Action Team activists, Bucks County Mutual Aid, The Bucks County Anti-Racism Coalition, the Bucks NAACP, local Black Lives Matter activists, and the new independent media site Bucks County Rising are a sampling of local progressive efforts. Statewide you can look to organizations like Make the Road Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Spotlight, and Pennsylvania Stands Up who are empowering citizens to make progressive change. All of these groups inspire me...
Continue reading my first column at the Bucks County Courier Times
State of the Nation
PA should give 1.6 million workers a raise. The Keystone Research Center and nonpartisan Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center released a report last month that convincingly makes this exact case. This would affect 27.5 percent of the state’s workforce — and their families. All state lawmakers have to do is raise the minimum wage, which is currently tied to the federal minimum wage at $7.25/hour. Here are PA border states’ minimum wages: NY-$12.50, NJ-$12, MD-$11.75, DE-$9.25, OH-$8.80, WV-$8.75. All are scheduled to phase to $15/hour in the future.
“These wages have not changed for over 13 years, keeping thousands of workers living below the poverty level,” according to Jacqui Rogers, a living wage tracker and partner with the Bucks County Women's Advocacy Coalition. "Over 60 percent of minimum wage workers are women, many of whom are primary wage earners in the household — they are not teenagers.” UFCW Local 1776 President Wendell Young IV and Democratic State Senator Christine “Tina” Tartaglione also co-wrote an oped worth reading that takes Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce anti-wage hike propaganda to task.
Hate has a home in PA. The York Daily Record reported that there has been a spike in hate incidents against Asian-Americans in Pennsylvania. This is in line with trends nationally, and is one of Donald Trump’s enduring and bigoted legacies of his presidency; by racializing the Covid-19 pandemic with disgusting names like “the China virus” and “kung flu,” he was able to inspire hate. Meanwhile, up the road in Lancaster County, an 18-year-old Mt. Joy (white) man was charged with “ethnic intimidation” after attempting to burn down a home with “Mexican immigrants.” Now both these two stories appear to be about the spontaneous, albeit inspired hate of random individuals. However, make no mistake, there is organized hate in Pennsylvania. In fact, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are 36 hate groups in the state. PA has the dubious distinction of ranking 5th state in the country with the most hate groups. In Bucks County, Quakertown hosts the white nationalist Antelope Hill Publishing, while Newtown is home to the anti-Muslim The Shoebat Foundation. And don’t forget the insurrectionist Proud Boys like to come to Bucks County to support Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick. Bucks County grassroots Republican leader Dean Malik even called the “hate group” Proud Boys “patriotic young men supporting our President.”
The only just war is class war. If you believe that then it’s time to support Amazon.com fulfillment center workers trying to unionize in Alabama. Michigan U.S. Representative Andy Levin called the forthcoming vote “the most important election for the working class of this country in the 21st century.” President Joe Biden also expressed his solidarity with workers in this video message:
The National Labor Relations Board will tally the votes from the almost 6,000 eligible warehouse workers March 30, and hopefully certify the new union after an election victory. This would be Amazon’s first unionized warehouse in the country. Amazon, the second largest private-sector employer in the U.S., is notorious for its labor abuses, has been accused of “pandemic profiteering,” and is so viciously anti-union it has even hired Pinkerton spies to quash organizing efforts. If Alabama’s Amazon workers are successful, this could have a domino effect across the country, and as one Amazon executive told Recode, a successful unionizing drive is “likely the single biggest threat to the business model.” This could be the threat of a good example for other workers. Meanwhile, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ net wealth is about $196 billion.
Speaking of union organizing, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or PRO Act, which would make it easier for workers to join unions and strengthen their labor rights. “This is the most significant piece of Labor Law reform to expand workers’ rights on the job in nearly eight decades,” stated PA AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale. Pennsylvania Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick was one of five Republicans to vote in favor of the act. Fitzpatrick received the PA AFL-CIO endorsements the last two election cycles, which is a sizable hurdle to overcome for any Democrat trying to unseat him in Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District if he runs for re-election. However, the bill will likely die in the Senate as it would need 60 votes to overcome the filibuster, which is just another reason why the Democrats need to get rid of the filibuster.
Beyond the Bubble
2020 was a deadly year for human rights defenders. A new report by Front Line Defenders states that at least 331 human rights defenders were killed last year. Sixty-nine percent of those killed were working on land, Indigenous, and environmental rights. Mongabay highlighted the fact that Colombia was the deadliest country in the world for these activists, accounting for 177 of the murders, or 53 percent of the total global number.
Africa is “facing its own Standing Rock moment.” Over 263 community organizations and NGO’s are urging global banks to help keep the oil in the soil by not funding a monstrous oil pipeline that would likely ravage “local communities, water supplies, and biodiversity in Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya.”
Bantu Lukambo, Director of the Congolese NGO Innovation for the Development and Protection of the Environment (IDPE) said: “Pollution has no boundaries, any environmental impact triggered by the EACOP pipeline will affect not only wildlife and communities but will threaten also the stability in the region, with possible oil spills in some of the last remaining water reservoirs of the Great African Lakes, fuelling disputes between countries.” The 900-mile East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) will run through the basin of Lake Victoria, the continent’s largest lake, which 40 million people depend on for water and food. It will also cut across over 200 rivers. “It is difficult to conceive of a more dangerous project at a more perilous moment for the planet than the EACOP,” said David Pred, Executive Director of Inclusive Development International. “The good news is that it’s not too late to stop this project.”
Thanks for reading! I look forward to your feedback and suggestions.