Top 10 Reasons to Look Forward to 2013By James Haslam, VWC DirectorDear Friend,I have always believed that Vermont can lead theway. Over the past year, you and thousands othershave participated in countless ways to bring us tothis unique moment in Vermont’s history. From ourbreakthrough victory on universal healthcare to thegroundbreaking work with the People’s Budget we areadvancing human rights in Vermont. Together, we arebuilding one movement for people and the planet.Here’s my Top Ten list of reasons I’m excitedabout the work we are doing. We’ve never been ina stronger position to pursue our goals and havepositioned ourselves to do some incredibly excitingthings in the year ahead. Please send a donationand contact us to help out any way you can... James with his family at the May Day rally in 2012.
10. Declaration of Human Rights and Human Rights CouncilOn Labor Day weekend, hundreds of people gathered for the People’s Convention forHuman Rights. One outcome of the convention was the Vermont Declaration of HumanRights which describes the crises experienced by Vermont’s communities, identifiescommon root causes of these problems, describes a shared vision, and proposes a planof action.Several of the organizations which co-hosted the People’s Convention have since formedthe Vermont People’s Human Rights Council. With a common vision, this Council willtruly build one movement for people and the planet!
9. Peoples Budget Campaign: Re-envisioning DemocracyWe need to change the state’s budget process tobe accountable to meeting the needs of all peopleand our communities.In Spring 2012 the People’s Budget campaignsuccessfully passed a law that mandated thatVermont’s budget “address the needs of thepeople of Vermont in a way that advanceshuman dignity and equity.” The law also alsorequires that “[s]pending and revenue policies... recognize every person’s need for health,housing, dignified work, education, food, socialsecurity, and a healthy environment.” On December 7, 2012, Put People First delivered our proposal for a People’sEstablishing this clear purpose is only a first step Budget to the State Administration.in creating a participatory democracy grounded Read about our vision for a new way toin human rights, healthy communities, real do the budget.democracy and collective responsibility.
8. Building a National Peoples Movement: VWC helping bring PutPeople First nationallyThe vision behind our Put PeopleFirst campaign is spreading. Wemust organize in our communities,and win as much as we can on astate level, however, we need anational and global movement totruly turn things around to set acourse toward healthy communitiesand a livable planet.The VWC has just been nominatedto help anchor a national organizingprocess to build a new grassrootsmovement for human rights calledHuman Rights At Home. Our Northeast Human Rights Dialogue, Philadelphia, PApartners in Pennsylvania have June 2, 2012launched a new effort called PutPeople First PA. We have just gotstarted and in 2013 things are really going to start taking off!
7. Building a National Peoples Movement: HCHR in MD, OR and MEAs we move forward in Vermont, we are thrilled that other states across the nationare building Healthcare is a Human Right Campaigns. Right now, HCHR campaigns areunderway in Maine, Maryland, Oregon, and other states. As more states pick up theunique mix of grassroots organizing, human rights policy, and changing the story thathelped us win in Vermont, we gain new hope for transforming healthcare in the UnitedStates. We call on our peers nationwide to support us and our partners in this growingmovement in 2013. “Vermont’s success has inspired us to re-invigorate the universal healthcare movement in Maine. We believe it will take states leading the way for our country to establish a universal healthcare system. In the coming months we hope to launch a Maine Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign to change what is politically possible like they did in Vermont.” —Ben Chin, Maine People’s Alliance Public launch of Maryland Healthcare Is A Human Right Campaign, Dec 15, 2012. Columbus, MD
6. HELP: After Irene and Sandy we need to build One Movement forPeople and the Planet As a parent of two young children there is nothing more important to me right now than stopping climate change. The right to a Healthy Environment and Livable Planet (HELP) is a fundamental human right. Around the world and here in Vermont, the climate crisis threatens many other fundamental human rights, such as the rights to food and water security, shelter, and personal safety. We must transform public, economic, and environmental policy to put people and the planet first. In the coming year, VWC’s HELP working Over 50 VWC members participated group will work with our partners to take in the stop-the-tar-sands- pipeline protest at the Governor’s Conference in action to put people and the planet first. Burlington this past July.
5. Veteran Leaders and a Movement of FamiliesOur veterans in the movementhave always helped us realize thatbuilding the world we want is nota sprint, but we have to be longdistance runners in the movement.Building a movement is not just acommitment of individuals, but offamilies and generations that takeup the struggle for human rightsand social justice.Peg joined the VWC in 2003 as aHotline volunteer and most recentlyserved as President for the lastthree years. Joyce Werntgen, Peg’spartner, has been a bedrock for Peg and Joyce were honored with the Human Rightsthe VWC, undertaking most of the Heroes Award at the VWC 14th Anniversary Celebrationunheralded, yet key roles that make on Dec 8, 2012.for a strong organization. In 2013,incorporating their wisdom and the experience of other veterans in our movement will becritical for us to meet all of our challenges in the road ahead.
4. The Next Generation of New Young LeadersI became a VWC volunteer in 1999 at atime in my life when I really wanted tohelp bring about transformative changefor our country but didn’t know where tostart. I was given a tremendous amountof opportunity to hit the ground running,organizing to help build and grow theorganization. One of the huge strengths ofthe VWC is that we have always prioritizedbringing in the next generation of youngleaders into our movement.The VWC’s People’s Media Project andPeople’s University for Learning &Liberation have become great ways for the Power to the youth! Marah and Sierra- both highnext generation to grow as new leaders school freshmen- getting ready to testify at theand we are grateful to all of our interns. budget hearings!
3. Biggest Year Yet: Right to Organize Struggles in 2013 We support early childcare educators and home care workers who are struggling to win the right to organize from the state legislature. A victory will redefine the labor movement and be a major advance for thousands of low-wage women workers in Vermont. These are the struggles of people who are teaching our children at the most important stage of their development, supporting our family members to fully participate in Members of Vermont Early Educators United- AFT “Kids Count on Me” at the Vermont community life, and nurturing generations of Statehouse, April 17, 2012. neighbors and friends. “Early educators’ fight to organize isn’t just a fight to support childcare providers, but it’s also a fight for the right for quality affordable childcare for all children in Vermont. It is essential that we have the support of parents in order to win the rights to be decision makers on policies that affect our ability to provide for our children. We’ve come a long distance in the last two years and that’s directly related to the organizing efforts of the VWC.” -- Anna Gebhardt, early educator
2. Biggest Year Yet: Re-envisioning Membership & ParticipationIn our early days, we calledourselves a “rapid responsenetwork,” to mobilize support forworkers’ rights. Over the years wehave created a membership-rundemocratic organization. Todaywe have organizing committeesin nearly every county of thestate, multiple statewide workcommittees, and over 10 staffmembers. As we keep developingan ever-growing base of grassrootsleaders, our organization hasreached a new level of capacity toachieve tremendous victories. VWC Membership at the 2012 Membership AssemblyThis year, we’re working with on December 8, 2012.our members across the state todevelop a new membership and organizational structure, with clearer roles for all, tomaximize this potential.
1. Biggest Year Yet: Peoples AgendaThrough the People’s Agenda, we will declare in unitythat the balance of power will be shifted back to thePeople! Key demands for 2013 include: • Guaranteeing that everyone gets the medically necessary care they need, including dental care, not limited by any benefit restrictions, by ensuring equitable financing of healthcare as a public good. • A people’s budget, grounded in human rights principles, with equitable spending and revenue policies, that meets the fundamental needs of everyone in Vermont. • The right to organize a union and bargain collectively for early childhood educators and independent providers of home and community living services. • Access to driver’s licenses for all Vermont residents regardless of immigration status. • Workers’ rights to basic workplace protections, including paid sick leave. • Policies that advance our right to a healthy environment and livable planet.
It’s truly amazing to look back at all we accomplished in 2012 before looking ahead to2013. To realize a human rights based system that is sustainable for humans and MotherEarth for generations to come, we must continue to get our communities organized andbuild a powerful people’s movement based on interdependence, solidarity, and love.There has never been a more exciting time for the movement we are growing.Thank you for your participation and your donations that help us build this movement!James Haslam