Statement from the Unemployed Workers Union on Hogan’s Announcement on Curtailing Pandemic Benefits Early
We condemn Maryland Governor Hogan’s abrupt decision to curtail federal pandemic benefits early, giving the unemployed just one month’s notice. Just weeks earlier, the State Labor Department said that Maryland would not be joining states that returned benefits.
Looking beyond the false rhetoric that “benefits are keeping people from taking jobs” are the facts. The April jobs figures were deeply disappointing. Dow Jones estimated one million new jobs; instead, new jobs totaled only 266,000.
The national unemployment rate inched up to 6/1%; Maryland’s is slightly higher at 6.2%, Baltimore City 7.6%, and Prince George’s County 8%.
We assert that the motive of removing the meager federal safety net (which costs the State nothing) is to create an ever large and desperate group of unemployed that will push wages and benefits down for all workers.
It is the responsibility of the government to protect and defend all of its people. It is reprehensible for the State to leave workers at the mercy of the so-called “market” rather than planning for decent-paying jobs, dignity, and economic stability for everyone.
Where is the “Public Works Program”? Is the Labor Department opening up its doors and providing training and job placement?
Insult to Injury = People Have Not Received Their Benefits.
The Peoples Power Assembly has filed two separate “Freedom of Information Requests” with the State. The first is to provide our organization with the number of people who have yet to receive benefits through the Beacon system, whether State or Federal, and the second is to give the number of people who received the one-time grant while they were delayed benefits. To date, we have heard from no one who has received the State benefit.
Instead, we have heard horror stories from people who have not received a dime of their benefits despite applying a year ago.
The Peoples Power Assembly has launched the Maryland Unemployed Workers Union to help fight for our rights and obtain our State and CARES Act benefits. Together and united, we can win! We want jobs or income now! Halt evictions, foreclosures, and repossessions for all unemployed workers.
Every Thursday, from 6 pm to 8 pm — we hold a clinic for workers to file formal grievances and appeals. A pro-bono attorney and assistants are present to fill out grievances and execute letters to the Labor Secretary and Governor.
Join us in front of our office at 2011 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218. (We will assemble in front outdoors and masked for everyone’s comfort and safety.) The clinic will take place rain or shine. If our tents are not adequate, we will meet inside and maintain social distance.
We realize that people who live outside the Baltimore metropolitan area cannot make it in person. Please let us know, and we will arrange a zoom call—text 410-218-4835 with your email, telephone, and information.
Social distancing and masks please. We will have PPE available.
For those desiring to stay inside cars, please park nearest to the War Memorial Plaza Eastside. Roll down your windows to hear the rally. We will have a car caravan route for the March to Whole Foods.
March 20 is the next national day of action in solidarity with Alabama Amazon workers.
Please join us on Saturday, March 20, to send a clear message to Jeff Bezos and Amazon that we support the Bessemer Alabama workers who are standing up for a union. We say stop union-busting!
Workers everywhere inspired by the majority, Black workers in Bessemer fighting to win the first U.S. union at Amazon, are prepared to continue building the solidarity movement that’s arisen around this historic struggle!
The weekend of March 20 is also the U.N. Anti-Racism Day, with actions worldwide. March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. These two calls for action are connected, as we know that the fight against racism and building worker power are inextricably linked.
A few weeks are left until voting in Bessemer ends on March 29. As Amazon and their union busters, Morgan Lewis, continue to roll out dirty trick after dirty trick, our demonstration will come at a consequential time.
Baltimore activists and community leaders have urged City Council members to pass a resolution. We haven’t heard back yet.
So we will plan a protest at City Hall and then March to Whole Foods.
Join March 20 in solidarity with Alabama Amazon workers & against racism and union-busting!
Initiated by Southern Workers Assembly and Support Amazon Workers Union
The local protest is sponsored and endorsed by (list in formation):
Baltimore and Maryland Amazon Workers for Justice
Peoples Power Assembly
Reverend Annie Chambers
Dr. Marvin “Doc” Cheatham, President, Matthew Henson Neighborhood Association (West Baltimore)
Reverend CD Witherspoon
Prisoners Solidarity Committee
Women in Struggle/Mujeres En Lucha
Dr. Kenneth Morgan, Coalition Black Trade Unionist * for ID only
Baltimore Peace Action
Bill Goodin, writer, The National Black Unity News, and community activist
Struggle La Lucha
Youth Against War & Racism
Kermit Leibensperger, Shop steward, UFCW Local 1994
Cleve Andrew Pulley, Fired Walmart worker and Coordinator, Mass Action Coalition to Jail Killer Cops
Courtney Jenkins, President Coalition Black Trade Unionist, Baltimore
Ending Vaccine Apartheid in Baltimore – Saving Lives Campaign Proposals
Community leaders held a press conference to end “Vaccine Apartheid” in Baltimore, calling for concrete remedies to Maryland’s vaccine rollout disparity. Participants included: Reverend Annie Chambers, Peoples Power Assembly, and Douglas Homes advocate; Dr. “Doc” Marvin Cheatham, President, Matthew Henson Neighborhood Association (West Baltimore); Leon Purnell, director Men’s and Family Center (East Baltimore); Joyce Butler, Prisoners Solidarity Committee; and Sharon Black, retired RN and Peoples Power Assembly.
The press conference took place on a blustery cold day in front of Dallas Court at Douglas Homes. Reverend Chambers stated, “In this small housing court, three people who died from COVID and a fourth have developed serious COVID illness. I have also lost a family member to COVID.”
Sharon Black, “We are asking for a minute of silence for the lives lost to COVID; you can see that this is not an abstract question for us. We will not rest until every person who wants a vaccine gets one and that we beat COVID in Baltimore.”
“Give Baltimore the damn vaccine!” proclaimed Cheatham. His organization has been actively engaged with neighborhood outreach since the pandemic began. Cheatham stressed that Coppin State University should become a site for vaccination, “It sits in the heart of West Baltimore, and it enables residents to easily access the vaccine.”
Leon Purnell stated, “Our residents don’t have internet access and the ability to navigate the complex systems, and they are being left behind. He exclaimed, “We already have the vans that can do work in the Eastside.”
“Our prisoners must get the vaccine! They are our relatives and loved ones. We are continually getting reports that there is inadequate PPE and they are getting sick”, stated Joyce Butler from the Prisoners Solidarity Committee.
The above groups and representatives seek meetings with City officials, the Baltimore Health Department, the State government, and National Guard representatives to discuss some of the concrete steps they seek.
This is the statement and demands they announced:
STATEMENT FROM THE BALTIMORE SAVING LIVES CAMPAIGN
ENDING VACCINE APARTHEID
As community leaders and organizations, we have come together to form a “Baltimore Saving Lives Campaign.” We both seek to expose and highlight the disparity in vaccine distribution and put forward solutions.
Black, Brown, and poor communities of Baltimore have been left behind. The facts are there, and the urgency is real. In the last year, Black people’s life expectancy has dropped a full 2.7 years. Due to COVID, this is the first time in U.S. history that we have seen such a sharp decline.
Those most in need have been pushed to the back of the line. This is due to the method that vaccines have been rolled out. Complex, confusing and impossible internet sign-ups, phone lines that people cannot get through, and lack of transportation have created barriers.
Our most vulnerable elders, those without digital access and transportation, must get the vaccine. This includes low-wage essential workers, those living in public housing, in the streets, and those who are being forgotten in the patchwork of confusing delivery systems.
Our goal is to see that everyone who wants a vaccine gets a vaccine. Our goal is to beat COVID in Baltimore.
Our proposals are based on that larger goal. We MUST be proactive and think beyond the initial rollout, which has been a failure. A failure that has obviously left out the people of Baltimore. We need to prepare now, not wait!
These are our initial proposals:
INCLUDE M & T SITE FOR BALTIMORE RESIDENTS FIRST
ALLOCATE MORE VACCINES TO CLOSE THE DISPARITY
ONE DEDICATED 24 HOUR CITY HOTLINE TO SCHEDULE VACCINES BASED ON 311 MODEL WITH ADEQUATE STAFFING
PLAN TO EXTEND HOURS FOR ALL SITES
DOOR TO DOOR VACCINATIONS
ACCESSIBLE COMMUNITY VACCINATION CENTERS
Churches & Closed Recreation Centers
Coppin State University – West Baltimore
Men’s and Family Center – East Baltimore
The zip code priorities set at the Convention Center site have left off many housing projects, including Douglas Homes. With the detection of the virus at Latrobe Homes, setting up mobile units to cover each area is urgent.
FREE UBER TRANSPORTATION
Baltimore County is already providing free uber transportation
EXPAND CATEGORIES BASED ON NEED
The City can use its own guidelines based on the fact that many of our residents are at greater risk. For instance, the COVID death rate for Black, Latinx, and low-wage and essential workers is higher, regardless of age. In Washington D.C., Mayor Muriel Browser lowered the age for vaccinations in heavily Black wards. This was because the Black population’s death rates were higher, and life expectancy was shorter. We must think out of the box, including exploring other vaccine sources if needed.
HOMELESS & PEOPLE WITH ADDICTIONS
Plans must be made to immediately go into action when one-shot vaccines are delivered. Many states have already begun using the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
While the prison system is run primarily by the State, many of the incarcerated population are from Baltimore City. We must strongly advocate that all prisoners be vaccinated and have adequate PPE.
LOW WAGE AND ESSENTIAL WORKERS NOT FORMERLY COVERED
Many of these workers suffer from underlying health conditions, yet they are forced to work with no protection. This includes grocery workers, retail clerks, fast food and restaurant workers, bus drivers, etc. Let’s get them vaccinated as soon as possible.
Involve the unions in making plans to protect their workers.
LISTEN TO OUR TEACHERS, NOT UNTIL ITS SAFE
WEEKLY BRIEFINGS WITH COMMUNITY LEADERS ON PROGRESS AND PROBLEMS
We are urging weekly briefings with the Saving Our Lives Campaign and others with the City and State representatives, including the Baltimore City Health Department, representatives of the Mayor’s Office, the Governor, and the National Guard.
Social distancing and masks mandatory (We will have PPE on hand).
See below for those who can participate in cars.
Derek Chauvin is the first of the four killer cops to stand trial for the murder of George Floyd. The trial is set to begin Monday, March 8 (with jury selection). The whole world witnessed the brutality that stole George Floyd’s life. People took to the streets in cities and towns in every state in this country to demand justice for him and for all those murdered by police.
Baltimore answers the call of the National Alliance for Racist and Political Repression to hold solidarity rallies all over the country.
This trial is not only important for Minnesota, which has never seen a white police officer prosecuted for murdering a Black person. It is important for the entire country, which was set aflame in rebellion after Floyd’s murder. We will not rest until we see all four of George Floyd’s killers taken off the streets, and our communities have the power to decide who polices our communities and how our communities are policed. Stand with us.
Justice for George! All power to the people!
It is possible to stay in your car for this action. Otherwise, face coverings and social distancing are mandatory.
We will hold a candlelight vigil for George Floyd as the sun sets. We will have candles but if you would like to bring you own, please do.
Your help is needed now for both of these events to cover costs Thank you in advance, every donation counts.
We are sending all of our support, love and solidarity to the Bessemer, Alabama, Amazon workers in their fight for a union and for workers power.
Trust us, we know how brutal warehouse conditions are: the impossible quotas and pressure to keep up; the lack of safety and concern for workers who are risking their lives during this pandemic without hazard pay; the constant monitoring of our every move; breaks that are way too short and bathrooms that are way too far; and so much more.
Like Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement, Bessemer workers are leading the way.
We salute your courage given everything that the company has done to discourage, intimidate and stop workers from having a fair vote. Shame on you, Amazon, that you would oppose mail-in votes.
Win or lose, no one will forget this battle against workplace injustice.
What will be remembered, Jeff Bezos, is your greed and callousness during this pandemic.
You made thirteen billion dollars ($13,000,000,000) in one day after the pandemic caused Amazon’s stock price to surge. This set a record for the largest single-day increase in individual wealth ever recorded. Yes, corona cash has been good for you, Bezos, despite the fact that 20,000 workers have tested positive, and that you withdrew hazard pay while you were cashing in.
You could have taken that one day corona windfall and paid all 876,000 Amazon workers each a $105,000 bonus.
The Alabama workers’ battle is truly a fight between David and Goliath, which is taking place in the birthplace of the civil rights movement. We must all pick a side; as the union song goes, “Which side are you on?”
We urge everyone to pick the side of the Bessemer, Alabama, workers!
Facebook shuts down community, women’s groups and activists’ pages without cause
Groups announce campaign to restore pages and to fight censorship
On Friday, January 22, 2021, Facebook disabled the main pages of two major community organizations, Peoples Power Assembly and Women In Struggle / Mujeres En Lucha, and activists around the country who have played roles in either group, extending it’s purge to Puerto Rican activist Berta Joubert-Ceci; Greg Butterfield, Struggle La Lucha writer; Cheryl La Bash, co-chair, National Network on Cuba; Maggie Vascassenno, Los Angeles Harriet Tubman Center for Social Justice; and others.
It also included PPA page editor Charlene Lady J. Jenkins, a founder of “What’s Up Baltimore,” whose Baltimore grassroots network was shut down as a result.
In addition, 16 individual activists’ profiles were disabled, which means that close to a dozen other progressive pages and groups were frozen when their administrators were disabled, including: the Baltimore Harriet Tubman Solidarity Center, ICE Out of Baltimore, Prisoners Solidarity Committee, Youth Against War & Racism, and Baltimore and Maryland Amazon Workers.
Sharon Black stated: “Facebook’s disabling of pages and the accounts of major activists who have not violated community standards is meant to silence and censor our voices. The Peoples Power Assembly has played a significant role in the Baltimore Black Lives Matter protests in the summer and more recently opposing Trump’s effort to overturn the election. On Dr. King Jr.’s birthday holiday, we held a car caravan to Jessup Correctional Institute and the Howard County Immigrant Detention Center to demand justice for prisoners and detainees.”
Berta Joubert-Ceci, founder of the Women’s Fightback National Network/Red Nacional de Mujeres en Lucha and Women In Struggle, stated, “It is appalling — the cowardice of Facebook in silencing the voices of women and progressive people who struggle for justice and a better life for all.” Joubert-Ceci is also an organizer of the International Peoples’ Tribunal on U.S. Colonial Crimes in Puerto Rico. Her personal page used to connect with the Puerto Rican movement was deleted along with Women In Struggle.
Attorney Summerfield concluded, “We intend to fight this! This includes waging a public campaign to demand that the pages of all activists and the groups they represent are reactivated. We intend to use every avenue at our disposal, including legal remedies, to stop the censorship of voices that are too often marginalized.”
Email: ZUCK@FB.com; email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phone: 650-543-4800 or 650-308-7300
Tell Facebook: Stop silencing the voices of community, workers, anti-racists, BIPOC, women’s, anti-war and socialist groups. Restore all the pages: Peoples Power Assembly, Women In Struggle / Mujeres En Lucha, and all of the activists impacted and the pages they administer. This includes: Sharon Black, Berta Joubert Ceci, Cheryl LaBash, Greg Butterfield, Maggie Vascassenno, Rasika Ruwanpathirana, Andre Powell, Elizabeth Toledo, Steven Ceci, Lallan Schoenstein, Charlene Lady J Jenkins, Alec Zomerfeld, Andrew Cancon, Miranda Etel, David Card, and Ian Andrew Schlakman.
The Peoples Power Assembly will hold a rally and car caravan on Monday, January 18, 12 noon, gathering at 2011 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218 (car caravan will leave at 1 pm sharp) and travel to Jessup Correctional Institute and ICE detention center to demand justice for those behind bars.
We will also hold a virtual speak out before the caravan and at different intervals during the day. If you would like to be a part of the speak out please email us at PeoplesPowerAssemblyHour@gmail.com or call 410-218-4835 so that we can record your statement. We will play as many as possible on January 18.
The ugly and vicious racist coup attempt by Trump and his fascist followers, is not over. Many of these same groups are planning actions at local state capitols and again in Washington D.C. on January 17, on the Dr. King Jr. holiday weekend, leading up to the January 20 Inauguration.
Trump’s fascist movement is a threat to all workers and is particularly aimed at overturning the movement against racism and police terror.
It is critical that we mobilize on Dr. King Jr. weekend, in whatever way is possible — car caravans, socially distancing protests, sick outs, strikes — in our cities and towns. We must send a clear message that the majority of workers and poor are deeply and actively opposed to the confederate flag waving mob that seeks to turn history back.
We will not let them define this weekend. Let’s build a massive car caravan.
Please donate to make this weekend a success: DONATE HERE or donate Venmo@SolidarityCenter
The Peoples Power Assembly wishes everyone love and solidarity during this holiday season. Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Winter Solstice, Merry Christmas! Thank you all for your hard work, perseverance & support during 2020. We will remain strong and united as we look forward to a new year of struggle in 2021.
The Peoples Power Assembly’s Facebook page, along with the November 4, “If Trump steals the election and people’s mandate protest” were illegally shut down hampering our ability to organize doing irreparable harm to the organization. In addition, 15 organizers were singled out also.
Below is our statement. Please help us by disseminating this widely.
Make sure that November 4th March and car caravan are a success. Please get the word out since we are now hampered. Please donate if you are able to help us with March and legal costs as we will be pursuing every avenue to defend our democratic rights. Venmo@SolidarityCenter and DONATE HERE
Please sign up to get emergency emails alerts as this may be our only way of communicating with our members and friends in this period. SIGN UP HERE
Andre Powell, Sharon Black, Rev Annie Chambers
For People’s Power Assembly
Statement and News Release from the People’s Power Assembly:
Facebook illegally shuts down support of “If Trump steals the election” November 4 protest
On the evening of 10/28/20, 15 organizers who were affiliated with the Baltimore March and Car Caravan for November 4, had their Facebook pages disabled; all were administrators or editors on various Facebook pages that endorsed the action including: Peoples Power Assembly, Youth Against War & Racism, Prisoner’s Solidarity Committee, Women In Struggle/ Mujeres En Lucha, and Struggle La Lucha. This action effectively locked down all of these pages denying thousands of members their constitutional rights.
The Peoples Power Assembly page which has over 11,000 followers was shut down along with several other pages affiliated with the event.
Prior to this lockout, the Peoples Power Assembly’s main phone was barraged with harassing calls from Trump supporters and calls from the Department of Homeland Security connected to the Baltimore federal courthouse.
Some of the above groups including Struggle La Lucha and Women In Struggle are national and have been targeted.
It is important to note that the PPA in Baltimore has led protests of thousands of people since Spring demanding justice against racism and police terror. There can be no mistake that these actions are an effort to silence that movement.
Sharon Black, an organizer with the Peoples Power Assembly, stated:
“We take these attacks very seriously, they are a violation of our constitutional rights and are a blatant attempt to shut down organizing for the November 4th march and car caravan in opposition to the possibility of Trump stealing the upcoming election.
It is also an attempt to silence a “Peoples Mandate” which calls for jobs or income now, stimulus for workers, not billionaires; and end to racism and police terror, community control now; health care for all; no evictions, foreclosures, or utility shutoffs; safe work conditions and hazard pay; no wars or sanction, feed the people not the Pentagon.
This unconstitutional and undemocratic attack on our movement is a threat to activists and the general community everywhere and we are monitoring this closely to see if these attacks become more widespread as we get closer to the election.
At present we will mobilize mass support both locally and nationally against these illegal attacks and also seek legal remedies.
Our movement is united and strong and will not be deterred or defeated.”
The Peoples Power Assembly is calling a Press Conference, Friday, October 30, 2020, 12 noon outside of our offices in front of 2011 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218, rain or shine.