Archive for April, 2010
As pressure mounts in the lead up to Our Harbor Day, a developer finally responded publicly to our campaign demands. The developer, who requested their identity not be revealed when communicating with journalist Marc Steiner, did not speak to our demands directly. They instead offered up a distraction and not a solution to human rights violations at the Inner Harbor, but a response is still an acknowledgment that our voices are getting heard and pressure is mounting.
Visit the Marc Steiner Show for more information.
Update: April 30, 2010 4:08 PM: Marc Steiner did not specifically report that an Inner Harbor developer had communicated with him about the Human Rights Zone Campaign. Steiner said, (about 5:40 in the podcast) “somebody wrote in earlier to me from one of the companies [that] you’re asking change their policies.” Since the United Workers had directed its demands on the developers, not on individual employers, we assume that Steiner had received a communication from either GGP or Cordish. But it is possible that he meant it was received from anyone who would be affected by the fair development demands, which could include any of the vendors and the developers once in force. We stand by our assumption, but want to be clear that Steiner kept his source anonymous on air. We did change the blog title to clarify what was reported on the Steiner Show.
Our Harbor Day is about community involvement and people coming together to celebrate human rights by making a difference. That’s why the year of planning, preparing and working together is as much a part of this weekend’s events as will be the events themselves. As May 1 approaches, here is a look back at the steps leading up to the Participation Plays, neighborhood parades, musical performances and other events scheduled to take place on May 1. Thank you to everyone who has worked with us! You are making a difference in bringing justice to Baltimore.
The planning for Our Harbor Day started the day after last year’s B’More Fair. Here’s a look back at the community-centered celebration of arts, culture and human rights justice put together by community organizers from dozens of organizations and causes.
We continued to reach out to allies from across the country during the Poverty Scholars Leadership School by the Poverty Initiative of Union Theological Seminary. The school was held in West Virginia. Leaders from the United Workers shared lessons learned with other community organizers and reflected on how to build a broad social movement to end poverty, led by the poor themselves. Arts and culture played a big part in Leadership School, which helped inform the strategy for Our Harbor Day. Many of our allies we reflected with at Leadership School will join us in solidarity on May 1.
Next stop on the path to Our Harbor Day was workers announcing that demands would be moved up to the top of the profit chain. Workers announced demands targeted at the developers who control the Inner Harbor with a street theater performance that told the story of poverty-zone development.
The Fair Food Solidarity Tour brought Inner Harbor workers in solidarity with farmworkers in Florida. We traveled to Philadelphia and then back down to Immokalee Florida, stopping to protest with and stand in support of farmworkers along the route. Once in Immokalee, workers shared ideas on how to use theater and culture to build power and get heard.
The Justice Theater Conference brought cultural workers and community organizers to learn how to use theater to overcome oppression. Workshops on Theater of the Oppressed, puppet making and other justice theater strategies helped us get ready to develop the participation play scripts and plans for May 1.
At the Artful Activism Summit with the Backbone Campaign we learned specific skills, tactics and strategies for how to effectively tell our story. This was an incredible experience and helped hone our skills as creative and effective communicators for justice.
We’ve been working hard as May 1 approaches in the Participation Play Studio, which opened just before the Artful Activism Summit.
- When: Saturday May 1, 2010 (starts @ 11 AM)
- Where: Gather at 2640 St. Paul Street @ 11 AM
- Who: Everyone is welcome for this family friendly day of celebration and community action
- What: Our Harbor Day – Participation Plays, Neighborhood Parades, March to Inner Harbor
Today Inner Harbor workers spoke out on the Marc Steiner Show to expose the poverty conditions at the Inner Harbor. Workers from Five Guys, Cheesecake Factory and the Hard Rock Cafe spoke out against poverty wages, sexual harassment, stolen wages and other unfair practices at the Inner Harbor.
Workers also discussed the upcoming May 1 Our Harbor Day and talked about the Campaign for Fair Food. Kate Caldwell, Director of the Human Right to Work with Dignity Program at the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, shared information on sustainability and brought a national perspective to the Human Rights Zone campaign and the fight for fair development.
Marc Steiner has covered the United Workers with integrity and genuine interest in the reality faced by Baltimore’s low-wage workers, as told in their own voices. He covered the working and living conditions faced by the poor in his series Just Words, and also covered the Living Wages Campaign at Camden Yards. Steiner is a model journalist, bringing all voices to the table so that our community can work together to create a better Baltimore.
For a podcast of the show, go to http://www.steinershow.org/
We’re getting ready for May 1 Our Harbor Day. Check out these photos this weekend, from the Participation Play Studio.
For immediate release
Contact: Ashley Hufnagel (443/977-3531)
Inner Harbor workers to stage “Our Harbor Day” with series of street plays, neighborhood parades & protest at the Inner Harbor
(BALTIMORE) After more than a year of planning and preparation, hundreds of Baltimore’s low-wage workers and community allies will tell the “people’s history” of human rights and justice in Maryland on May 1, 2010 through a series of elaborate storytelling performances to draw attention to poverty-wages and poor working conditions at Baltimore’s premiere tourist and entertainment district. The day, dubbed “Our Harbor Day,” will include street plays, giant puppets, neighborhood parades, musical performances and a concluding rally and march from City Hall to the Inner Harbor.
Neighborhood plays start at 3:00 PM on May 1, 2010 (location to be announced, call Ashley Hufnagel at 443/977-3531 for exact location). Neighborhood plays converge at City Hall at 4:15 PM, where a final act that connects the struggle faced by Inner Harbor workers with that of the Underground Railroad will be performed by low-wage workers. The play will be told with large scale puppets and concludes with a march of workers and allies to the Inner Harbor.
Our Harbor Day will draw attention to workers’ demands that Inner Harbor developers, Cordish Co. and General Growth Properties (GGP), enter into legally binding agreements with the United Workers that will ensure that the economic human rights of workers are respected by the employers at the development. The “fair development” agreements would require all vendors (such as national chains Cheesecake Factory and ESPN Zone and locally owned Phillip’s Seafood), pay workers a living wage, which would be enforced through leases between the developers and their vendors. Workers are also demanding funding for education and health care.
Preparations for Our Harbor Day have included more than a year of planning, including rental of a large studio and art space starting in March, a four-day Artful Activism Summit with the Backbone Campaign held in in late March, and a full-day conference on Justice Theater held on the Saturday of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In December 2009 Inner Harbor workers drove to Immokalee, Florida to meet with farmworkers there and learn how to use street plays, puppets, music and neighborhood parades for drawing attention and building community support for worker justice.
On October 25, 2008 low-wage workers declared the Inner Harbor to be a “Human Rights Zone” and demanded that workers’ human rights to work with dignity, education and health care be respected. Specific demands were later announced, including that the developers mandate, through leases with their vendors, that every worker at the Inner Harbor be paid at least the state living wage, and that developers agree to fund education and health care programs for workers and their families. The United Workers has formally requested face-to-face meetings with Cordish and GGP. Neither developer has yet responded to the demands or the request to meet with the United Workers.
The United Workers is a human rights organization led by low-wage workers and was founded by homeless day laborers in 2002 at the Eutaw street shelter, an abandoned firehouse turned homeless shelter.
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Workers from the Inner Harbor will tell stories of the human cost of poverty zone development on their lives and the city of Baltimore and our demands of the developers to ensure basic human rights standards by entering into a legally binding economic human rights agreement with the United Workers. We’ll also be joined by Kate Caldwell with the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative who will share her knowledge of human rights law and development.
So, tune into to 88.9 or for a podcast of the show, go to http://www.steinershow.org/
A delegation from Baltimore are participating in the Farmworkers Freedom March, here is some videos from the march, soon, we also will have interviews with the participants, from Baltimore and other states and countries.
Today a delegation of United Workers leaders, who in December traveled from Baltimore to Immokalee, Florida on the Fair Food Solidarity Tour, are returning to Florida. Because tomorrow, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) will begin the Farmworker Freedom March, a trek from Tampa to Lakeland, home of Publix grocery store. Thousands of farmworkers and consumers will participate in this three day march to demand- freedom from forced labor, poverty and abuse.
After seventeen years of fighting for dignity and respect in the fields of Florida and significant victories from McDonald’s to Whole Foods, the CIW is one step closer to their vision of transforming the agricultural industry into an industry based on the respect for human rights, not the exploitation of human beings. Along the Fair Food Solidarity Tour, we were able to share our stories of exploitation and struggle from the fields to the tourist centers. We could see how the hand that picked the tomato was connected to the hand that placed that tomato on a burger. But we were not simply connected by our exploitation, but by our vision of a world that respects the human rights of everyone, everywhere. So, we are honored and compelled to take part in this historic moment in the Campaign for Fair Food.
PUBLIX ESCUCHA! ESTAMOS EN LA LUCHA!
To learn more about the Farmworker Freedom March and how you can stand in solidarity with farmworkers, visit their website at http://www.ciw-online.org/
Join us at our studio space for the final prop-making and rehearsals!
Where: 3500 Parkdale Ave. Bldg. 10
- Wednesday, April 28 from 4:30 PM- 5:30 PM— “Education” rehearsal and prop-making
- Thursday, April 29 at 7:30 PM— “Earth” rehearsal
- Saturday, May 1—SHOWTIME (starts at 11:00 AM at 2640 St. Paul Street)
For more exciting videos from the Artful Activism Summit, check out our you tube page http://www.youtube.com/user/UnitedWorkers
Summer Organizers Program
Applications are due April 14
United Workers is a human rights organization led by the poor to end poverty. After successfully securing living wages for stadium cleaners at Camden Yards we extended and expanded our human rights organizing to the Inner Harbor, Baltimore’s premier tourist destination. In 2008 we declared the Inner Harbor a Human Rights Zone demanding that all businesses (restaurant and retail) comply with economic human rights standards. Most recently workers decided to take demands to the top of the profit chain– the developers, Cordish and GGP. We are rolling out this next phase of the campaign in the spring of 2010 with the release of our Campaign for Fair Development Report and “Our Harbor Day” where hundreds of workers and allies retell the history of social justice struggles in Maryland.
This coming summer we will be ramping up the pressure on the developers to enter into a legally binding economic human rights agreement. We will be conducting a massive recruitment drive at all Inner Harbor employers (Cheesecake Factory, ESPN Zone, Chipotle) and organizing consumer actions.
Summer Organizers Program
Summer is the peak season at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. It is when the tourists come and when there is the most work. In our campaign cycle, this is when we conduct the majority of our workplace outreach to identify potential leaders at the Inner Harbor. The Summer Organizers Program is designed to expand our capacity during a 3-month period (June-August), by hiring four full-time Summer Organizers. Three of the Summer Organizers will focus on work-place outreach and home visits. One Summer Organizer will focus on organizing solidarity actions at the Inner Harbor and doing advance work for mini-tours in the Fall. All Summer Organizers will participate in Inner Harbor Actions and weekly workshops. This program is an opportunity to learn more about the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Organizing Model and the United Workers leadership development processes and develop skills in worker and community organizing.
The Summer Organizers Program is open to anyone who is committed to economic and social justice. It is full-time at $15.30/hr from June 1-August 31.
All applicants must either have a valid driver’s license or speak Spanish. Priority is given to those who are bilingual (Spanish/English), have good interpersonal skills, and have basic computer skills (word, excel, email).
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling our office at 410-230-1998. Applications must be emailed to email@example.com or mailed and in our P.O. Box 41547, Baltimore, MD 21203 by the deadline.
DOWNLOAD APPLICATION HERE: