NC JUSTICE NEWS: HKonJ March + Unemployment Insurance Benefits + Restaurant Workers

February 7, 2012

HKonJ: Historic rally to be held this Saturday


Five years ago, the North Carolina NAACP began building a multi-racial, multi-issue alliance of progressive organizations in North Carolina to form the Historic Thousands on Jones Street People’s Assembly Coalition (HKonJ-PAC). The movement – made up of over 125 member organizations – will continue its anti-racist, anti-poverty and anti-war agenda with its annual march this weekend.

The 6th Annual HKonJ march will take place this upcoming weekend, on Saturday, February 11, 2012. Armed with the historic shout, “We the People Shall Not Be Moved: Forward Together Not One Step Back!”, HKonJ aims to unite individuals from all walks of life. Citizens will march in support of voting rights, equitable education, a fair state budget, job creation, health care and community investments, and the protection of the rights of immigrants.

Assembling will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday morning at Shaw University on South Street in Raleigh. The march will begin at 10:30. Visit the HKonJ website for more information and details on the HKonJ 14-point agenda. We’ll see you this weekend!

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE: Federal benefits expire end of Feb.

Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits are crucial to helping families avoid financial disaster by providing modest support to families as they search for work. These supports are critical given the significant gap between the number of jobs available and the number of workers looking for employment in North Carolina. They bolster the economy by giving families dollars to spend locally, supporting demand for businesses, goods and services.

Yet once again, millions of hardworking Americans are at risk of being cut off of unemployment insurance unless Congress acts to renew the federal program, which is set to expire at the end of February. The NC Justice Center will host a press conference on the need for a federal extension of unemployment insurance at 2pm on Friday, February 10 at 310 New Bern Avenue in downtown Raleigh. Join us at the event for a chance to hear from advocates and unemployed workers who have relied on unemployment benefits to meet their basic needs while they look for a new job.

In the meantime, take a minute to call your Members of Congress and tell them that they must act to fully renew unemployment insurance, without any cuts or barriers to benefits. Click here to use the National Employment Project’s Unemployed Workers “Click-to-Call” page. For more information about unemployment insurance and how you can take action, visit www.tarheelworkers.org and check out the new infographic, which looks at what the average weekly unemployment insurance benefit ($290) means to North Carolina families. You can also follow Tar Heel Workers on twitter: @tarheelworkers.

ESTATE TAX: Repealing tax would cost state precious revenue

Last week, the General Assembly’s Revenue Laws Study Committee gathered to discuss a variety of issues, including proposed legislation to repeal North Carolina’s estate tax. The committee ran out of time before the estate tax proposals could be addressed, and the proposals will be put off until the next meeting in March. This gives lawmakers plenty of time to consider the consequences that repealing the estate tax would have on state revenues.

Under the proposed legislation, North Carolina would no longer levy an estate tax after 2012, shifting responsibility away from the state’s wealthiest households and reducing revenue available to fund key public investments. Eliminating the estate tax – which already exempts all but the very wealthiest estates – would cost up to $80 million or more in state revenue each year in order to cut taxes for the state’s wealthiest households.

At a time when low-income and middle class families are struggling to recover from the Great Recession – including bearing the brunt of state cuts to public education and health services – preserving the state’s estate tax is an important part of ensuring that all North Carolinians pay their fair share in taxes.

"OUT OF CONTROL": Public forums with NC Policy Watch

The General Assembly’s “midnight attack” on North Carolina’s teachers in January revealed a remarkable willingness to ram through an extreme agenda, no matter what it takes.

Please join N.C. Policy Watch and some key progressive allies at a public forum in your area about how these legislators are turning back the clock. Featured speakers include MaryBe McMillan of the N.C. AFL-CIO, Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies, Chris Fitzsimon and Rob Schofield of N.C. Policy Watch, and Robert Dawkins, Nancy Shakir and Linda Sutton from Democracy North Carolina.

You’ll have a chance to ask questions and share your perspective, too. Come to a forum near you (more sites will be added soon – let us know if you’d like to help bring this event to your town):

  • Fayetteville. Tuesday, Feb. 7th at 6pm, Bordeaux Branch Library, 3711 Village Drive
    Speakers: Rob Schofield, Chris Kromm, MaryBe McMillan, Nancy Shakir
  • Asheville. Wednesday, Feb. 8th at 7pm, West Asheville Library, 942 Haywood Rd.
    Speakers: Rob Schofield, Chris Kromm, MaryBe McMillan, Robert Dawkins
  • Winston-Salem. Thursday, Feb. 9th at 7pm, First Baptist Church Chapel, 700 Highland Avenue
    Speakers: Chris Fitzsimon, Chris Kromm, MaryBe McMillan, Linda Sutton

For more information contact Adam Sotak at adamsotak@democracy-nc.org or call 919-286-6000, ext 11. RSVP for the events here.

RESTAURANT WORKERS: Press conference in support of workers

The restaurant industry is growing in North Carolina, with food service occupations projected to have one of the highest growth rates in the state over the next decade, despite job losses throughout the Great Recession. Yet occupations associated with food service are among the lowest paid in North Carolina, and offer few employment benefits such as health insurance and paid sick days. 27 percent of tipped workers and 33 percent of waiters and waitresses live at or below the federal poverty level.

The current federal and North Carolina tipped minimum wage is just $2.13. Employers can pay workers the lowest subminimum wage of $2.13 as long as that wage plus tips is equal to $7.25 – the binding state and federal minimum wage – over the course of the workweek. Over time, the gap between the subminimum wage and minimum wage has increased, and workers are currently expected to make up more than two-thirds of their hourly pay through tips. This egregiously low subminimum wage is harmful to workers who depend on tips simply to reach the minimum wage and cover their basic needs.

On Monday, February 13 – or 2/13, to draw attention to the low $2.13 subminimum wage – the NC Justice Center, North Carolina Council of Churches, and AFL-CIO will host a press conference in support of restaurant workers across the country that are being undervalued and underpaid for their work. The event will also be in support of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United's congressional briefing, occurring in Washington, DC on the morning of Feb. 13. The conference will begin at 10:00 a.m. in Nash Square Park in downtown Raleigh.

DEFENDERS OF JUSTICE: Nominations & Save the Date

The Defenders of Justice (DOJ) Awards are given by the Justice Center to honor individuals or organizations that are making significant contributions in the following areas: Litigation; Research and Policy Development; Public Policy Advocacy and Grassroots Empowerment/Community Capacity Building. Recipients will be honored at our annual Defenders of Justice Event on Thursday, May 10, 2012.

Eligible nominees must be based in North Carolina. If you would like to nominate an individual or organization in one of the following categories, please complete this nomination form and return to Lucy Martinez at lucy@ncjustice.org no later than Feb. 28:

  • Policy Research and Advocacy - Conducting and disseminating research and development alternatives to existing policy.
  • Legislative Advocacy – Working with traditionally underrepresented populations to define and shape public policies.
  • Grassroots Empowerment/Community Capacity Building - Developing programs designed to help community based organizations or individuals be leaders within their own communities. These organizations or individuals will have examples of programs that have been successful.

Stay tuned for more details on the Defender of Justice Awards over the next few months.

 

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