From: UFE/Brenda Cotto-Escalera
Subject: UFE's E-News May/June 2008
UFE's E-News May/June 2008



Article One

Building the Backbone of the Economic Justice Movement

At the end of April, UFE hosted a small event that helped individuals - and by extension their organizations -- learn how to take effective action to build the economic justice movement.

A diverse group of 21 educators and organizers from around the country spent three and a half days learning popular education principles and practices with us in a Training of Trainers Institute. Through this intensive work, participants are now well equipped to organize and help build groups of those who are most affected by economic inequality. These are the groups that we believe will be the basis of a democratic, multi-racial, multi-class movement for economic justice.

Participants came from Seattle to Bangor, and ranged from unions (AFSCME) and religious organizations (UUSC) to community-based groups (Ithaca Alternatives Credit Union). And they varied from economic justice veterans to activists newly engaged in community education. Without exception, the feedback was enthusiastic, and everyone made strong commitments to actively spread the approaches and information through workshops of their own.

See photos from the Training of Trainers Institute.

Consider attending the next Training of Trainers Institute yourself or forward this link to someone who might be interested:

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Article Two

Annual Tax Organizing Conference Tackles State Budget Crises

Twenty-nine states faced a budget deficit for FY2009. The combined total was $48 billion.

With this as both the context and theme, the Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative (TFOC) held its fifth annual conference in Austin, TX last month. Twenty-two participants from 18 states heard from speakers such as Patrick Bressette from Demos, Kim Klein from Building Movement Project and Nesa Chapelle from the National Education Association. Together the speakers and the participants discussed effective strategies for progressive tax reform, fundraising, communication, and collaboration.

The conference ended on a positive note with participants visualizing the world they wish to create. They each made concrete commitments to strive towards their common vision.

Visit the Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative website

To learn how to better communicate about the importance of taxes and effective government visit this DEMOS site.

Read Kim Klein's new blog about the importance of protecting the commons.

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Article Three

Latest State Tax Achievements

Tax Fairness Action News, the bi-annual publication of the Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative (TFOC), showcases the critical organizing experiences and victories of TFOC's members. It includes topics such as RI's tax policy and the success of the Better Choice Budget campaign in NY. It is designed to help the public and our partners recognize the value and importance of the collaborative's work. Please consider supporting the TFOC!

Read the latest Tax Fairness Action News

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Article Four

Wells Fargo 2008 Shareholder Resolution Targets Racial Profiling and Sub-Prime Mortgages

In 2005 an investigation was conducted by then New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer into high cost loans and racial disparity. At that time, Responsible Wealth and other shareholders of Wells Fargo started pushing for answers. This year, we again presented a resolution asking Wells Fargo to report on their racial profiling and sub-prime mortgages. Here's a brief report from Julie Goodridge of Northstar Asset Management, who presented the resolution:

"When I go to these meetings, I am always amazed at how supportive the shareholders are of management. Wells was no exception. Here they have been involved in sub-prime, predatory lending for several years, are suffering from it financially, and yet they still deny any responsibility whatsoever -- and the shareholders believe them!

"After I presented our resolution that essentially accuses the company of racial profiling in its sub prime lending practices, the only shareholder to say anything was a man dressed in jeans and a white button down shirt who said, 'I say, if you don't like who we are, then sell your shares.'

"I wish I could be more upbeat, but as one of the few people under 65 in the room, with a very arrogant CEO, I felt all alone among the wolves...and I'm no shrinking violet. We need much more shareholder support at Wells."

Read the full resolution

Learn more about the racial bias in sub-prime mortgages that UFE helped focus national attention on in our State of the Dream 2008: Foreclosed

See how a Sheriff in Philadelphia tries to stop foreclosures.

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Article Five

Race, Ethnicity and Economic Destiny

C-SPAN covered a panel discussion on the diversity of young adults and their economic expectations. UFE staffer Amaad Rivera was on hand to discuss the effect of the racial wealth gap, issues of political power and how to win broad government investments in social programs.

Other panelists included Shannon Augare, Montana State Rep.; Maria Teresa Peterson, Voto Latino; Stefanie Brown, NAACP; Christine Chen, APIAVote; and Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip Hop Caucus.

The April panel was moderated by Heather McGhee of Demos and part of a daylong forum "A Better Deal: Reclaiming Economic Security for a New Generation" organized by Demos and held in Washington, DC.

Watch the C-SPAN Video

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Article Six

What's the 'Color of Wealth'? (Op-ed)

Commentator Sean Gonsalves recently used our book, the Color of Wealth, to help put the economic context and history behind the discussion of race relations in the U.S.:

"Before there can be meaningful discussion, typical Americans will need to come face to face with some meaningful facts about U.S. economic history. Beneath the superficial race talk is the very real and complex issue of the color of wealth.

"Actually, the important book The Color of Wealth - written by a multi-racial research team at United for a Fair Economy - is as good a resource as any to delve into the complexity of race and class in America. It's also a good way to get acquainted with some basic history that helps explain this great country's persistent racial wealth divide."

Read the full article

Find the book at Dollars and Sense, Powells or Amazon.

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Article Seven

Working Group on Extreme Inequality Fights Economic Disparity

UFE co-founder Chuck Collins started the Working Group on Extreme Inequality, a "coalition-in-formation," last year to mobilize, educate, and advocate for the fight against extreme economic inequality. The group, of which UFE is a member, recently collaborated with The Nation to publish a special issue highlighting economic inequality.

Read the articles at The Nation

Visit the Working Group on Extreme Inequality's website

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Article Eight

UFE Op-ed Calls for Change, Not Tax Rebates

An op-ed by UFE staffer Bob Keener, published in the Santa Rosa's Press Gazette, suggests that tax rebate checks could stimulate personal action for fundamental changes in our economy. Here's an excerpt:

"While we've been busy becoming two-income workaholic families rowing our little dinghies, the captains of industry have turned our economy into their own floating casino where they make all the rules - and surprise! - the house always wins."

Read the full article, A Different Viewpoint: Forget rebates, change the system


Click here to help address economic inequality by spreading the word about UFE.



"In the next several years -- whether we have a new perspective in the White House or more of the same conservative ideology -- the fragility of the economy, the entanglements of the military industrial complex, and the anti-worker efforts of multinationals, make the work of UFE's Popular Economics Education program all the more important."

- Steve Schnapp, UFE Education Coordinator

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United for a Fair Economy is a national organization dedicated to building a movement against economic inequality.