Category Archive : Updates from the Field

ACORN Leeds updates

In Leeds, ACORN welcomed the newest local group, with the launch of ACORN Armley local group.

Also in Leeds, there were many trainings, stalls, and door knocking sessions through April 2022. Additionally, members spoke at a Social Housing Action Campaign rally, Communication Workers Union conference, and National Education Union conference.

Press Release: Southern Rural Electricity Co-Op Boards Remain Overwhelmingly White

Lack of Diversity Silences Voices 

NEW ORLEANS — Eighty-one years after U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal provided federal loans and grants for establishing rural membership cooperatives to connect the “last mile” and bring electricity to almost all of rural America, 800 rural co-ops deliver electricity to some forty-two million Americans. Unlike other electric providers, residential customers use 57% of cooperatives’ power.

Rural electric cooperatives in many areas are often a significant economic presence and employers with assets and sales throughout the South of billions of dollars annually. 

The membership (customer-owners) is supposed to be democratically represented on co-op boards. However, “Electric Cooperative Board Diversity is a Failure in the South,” concludes that co-op boards are overwhelmingly white and male despite demographics in service areas, even when those areas have significant Black or Hispanic populations.

The report follows “The Crisis in Rural Electric Cooperatives in The South,”  an investigation of rural co-op boards in 12 southern states conducted by Labor Neighbor Research & Training Center and ACORN International five years ago in 2016.  This report measures what progress was made or, in this case, not made in that period.  In many cases, the report found that co-op boards made an effort on their public communications to hide the lack of diversity in their governance.   Wade Rathke, Chief Organizer of ACORN, noted that “Rural electric cooperatives are touted as one of the great icons of New Deal democracy, but it appears now that they have become entrenched ‘old boy clubs’ in too much of the South, out of synch with their communities, the members, and the urgent climate issues of our time.”

“There is too much evidence of democracy lost, and discrimination found. Transparency is rare, and too many rules and procedures maintain a status quo that seems more frozen in the fifties before the civil rights and women’s rights’ movements,” investigators concluded in 2016.

The new report finds that the population is 56% white in the 12-state region. Meanwhile, whites make up 93.1% of the boards of these states’ electricity co-ops. Co-op governance has been an issue in recent years in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Texas.

Rural Co-op Boards lacking diversity and transparency seem to engage in a pattern of discrimination that leaves Blacks and other people of color without an opportunity to provide input on potential changes to energy sources, board elections, or employment and procurement matters. Many also remain uninformed about how the relationship between electric cooperatives and members works.

###

Contact:

C.C. Campbell-Rock

504-930-9577

media@chieforganizer.org

David Thompson

407-484-8387

research@chieforganizer.org

IN THE NEWS: Victory of the Hijabeuses

The New York Times

April 18, 2022

The Female Soccer Players Challenging France’s Hijab Ban By Constant Méheut

Photographs by Monique Jaques

Complaints Filed: 178 Hospitals Fail to Provide Federally Mandated Price Transperency

Many hospitals are not doing the bare minimum to meet the needs of patients, address the inequities in healthcare, and even follow federal government rules for their operations! 

ACORN International in partnership with Labor Neighbor Research & Training Center, and Local 100 United Labor Unions in recent weeks has filed complaints against 178 hospitals in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas for failing to provide patients with price transparency, per the CMS’ latest guidelines/policy.

These hospitals either have no pricing information available or have it displayed in such a way that it is inaccessible to patients seeking the information. The regulation requires that the information be machine-readable, so it can be compared, but many hospitals have made comparison impossible, contrary to the regulation.  

As of the beginning of this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)  has a policy requiring price transparency in effect Jan. 1, 2021

  • “Starting January 1, 2021, each hospital operating in the United States will be required to provide clear, accessible pricing information online about the items and services they provide in two ways: As a comprehensive machine-readable file with all items and services. In a display of shoppable services in a consumer-friendly format.” (source)
  • Part of CMS’ actions to “address the health equity gap, ensure consumers have the information they need to make fully informed decisions regarding their health care, improve emergency care access in rural communities, and use lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to inform patient care and quality measurements.” 

Not only is there a crisis in medical costs, as longer-term research is proving, but patients and the general public cannot even access information about their procedures, price shop, or even find out exactly how much it will cost in advance, this means patients cannot “make fully informed and value-conscious decisions” 

CMS has threatened to begin finding hospitals for their impunity in not following the regulation and posting their prices transparently.  Our survey of hospitals in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas indicates that many of them will soon be facing significant penalties for consumer abuse in not filing.

https://laborneighbor.org/

Nigerian Success

Thirty families have now joined ACORN Nigeria to launch a new affiliate in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.  The first step in order to grow the membership is formally registering ACORN Nigeria, and we are on our way. This organizing was triggered by ACORN President Marva Burnett working with a local organizer, Etida Anthony Edem.

ACORN Canada: ‘Rally for Herongate’ challenges local property development

Timbercreek (also called Hazelview), a well-known property developer in Ottawa, has applied for an Official Plan Amendment (OPA) with the city’s government, proposing to redevelop the Herongate area for the next 20 years.

That’s right: two-zero. As in, two decades of one company having free reign over an area’s development.

ACORN Ottawa sprang into action by submitting a list of tenant’s demands to city officials, which must include the following, among other demands, if the OPA is to be granted:

  • 25-35% affordable housing with an emphasis on DEEP affordability 
  • Affordable childcare space 
  • Local job hiring pre and post construction
  • Affordable retail space for small businesses
  • Continued maintenance of units and proactive inspections by the City 
  • Quarterly reports on progress presented to tenants and community organizations in the neighborhood

Local ACORN members followed this list of demands with a Rally for Herongate to push for affordable housing, no demovictions, and no displacement of the local community. Check out highlights from their action below:

ACORN India: Dharavi Rocks releases new music video, “Vaada Karo”

ACORN India affiliate Dharavi Rocks, located in Mumbai, has recently released a new song with singer Suneeta Rao and musician Dhruv Ghanekar.

The new song was inspired by a study which linked climate change to a rising risk of pandemics, particularly in vulnerable communities. The song is an appeal to take care of our planet as well as each other, and calls for mindfulness about public safety during the COVID-19 crisis.

ACORN India, COVID relief in India, COVID crisis in India
The ongoing COVID crisis in India has affected some of the country’s most vulnerable communities, who are also affected by climate change.

As singer and lyricist Suneeta Rao states, “Climate Change is a problem that threaten us all…no matter what country or belief system we belong to. It is time we looked after one another and ourselves… It’s time we realized what is most important…and what it means to be Human.”

Rao has also stated that all surplus funds from the new song will be directed to ACORN India.

Dharavi Rocks is an educational music and dance project initiated by ACORN Foundation, which focuses on the welfare of slum children and waste collectors by introducing them to creative outlets like music and dance in order to pass on and encourage valuable life skills.

Watch the new video featuring the Dharavi Rocks band below:


If you’re interested in supporting Dharavi Rocks and ACORN India, click the button or check out the information provided on the flyer below.

ACORN India, COVID relief in India, COVID crisis in India

ACORN India: Vaccines and PPE distribution as COVID Relief efforts continue

ACORN India organizers prepare to distribute rations to communities affected by COVID-19

From providing resources like reliable taxi services to quarantine isolation centers, to handing out food rations and speaking out against police malpractice, ACORN India has been hard at work as organizers mobilized quickly as the COVID crisis worsened within the country.

Dharmendra Kumar, of the ACORN India affiliate Hawkers’ Joint Action Committee, reported that they have received more than 250 calls in the last two weeks from community members, and are providing relief services that include distributing food kits, registering people for the COVID vaccine, helping with applications for credit assistance from the government, and offering counseling to patients with COVID.

Food kits provide valuable resources such as kitchen staples and PPE masks

Farther south in Bengaluru, organizers have reported that they’ve distributed 200 food kits — approximately 14,000 meals — as well as additional food and hygiene kits in Hebbal and Yelahanka areas. ACORN members also received services such as credit application assistance, and some informal workers also received their official ACORN ID cards. ID cards have been an especially difficult aspect of COVID for informal workers and migrant laborers, who previously needed them in order to receive food rations from the government before the governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana loosened restrictions. These governments also recently announced that they would open a community kitchen and begin advertisements for places that would assist stranded migrant laborers.


Although the government of India has begun to provide a modicum of COVID relief, ACORN India still needs your help!

Check out the link below to donate, or get involved through the information on the flyer.

ACORN India, COVID relief in India, COVID crisis in India

ACORN India: Food donations to vendors continues

ACORN India, COVID relief in India, COVID crisis in India

As India grapples with the latest surge in COVID-19 cases, ACORN India members and affiliates have stepped in to provide resources to local communities in need.

In Bengaluru, organizers helped distribute food kits to approximately 100 vendors, many of whom are out of work due to the pandemic. These kits include kitchen staples and dry rations, as well as PPE equipment.

A standard dry-ration kit with PPE products, meant to last for 1 week for a family of 5

Although informal workers make up nearly 93% of India’s working population, they are still a relatively unprotected and vulnerable group. Dharmendra Kumar, member of the Hawkers’ Joint Action Committee in Delhi, was quoted in the press recently speaking of the lack of adequate medical supplies:

As far as street vendors are concerned, with most of them being migrants, there are not many people here whom they can approach for assistance – especially in today’s time when even the well-off groups are finding themselves helpless.

ACORN India, COVID relief in India, COVID crisis in India

ACORN India needs your help. If you are interested in donating to our organizers, click the link below:

ACORN Scotland, Living Rent,

ACORN Scotland: Elections, Evictions, and May Day Celebrations

Living Rent, ACORN International’s branch in Scotland, has been hard at work recently defending members against landlords, protesting forced evictions, and speaking out against injustices in their local communities.

Here’s what they’ve been up to lately:



EVICTIONS

Living Rent continues their ongoing campaign against evictions, with members being featured in the media in their fight against unfair or forced evictions.


Living Rent: Croftamie member Marjorie was threatened with eviction for not “having a durable connection to the area”, also known as: xenophobia

Evictions have been widespread in Scotland, including areas such as North Lanarkshire, Govanhill, Edinburgh, and Pollokshields. Tenants have been threatened and intimidated by landlords, and have also been subjected to inhospitable living conditions, including intense mold.

Living Rent’s response has been to file for an extension on the eviction ban, and group support to protect individual members.


ELECTIONS

Scotland recently held elections for the next Government, and Living Rent worked to raise awareness among voters to boost their familiarity on candidate and party policies on relevant issues to each Living Rent branch, such as the developing housing crisis, arrears, rising rents, and climate change.


Check out the link to find out more, get involved, and take action with Living Rent.


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