NC JUSTICE NEWS, June 2: Together NC, Immigration, Health Choice, Paid Sick Days, Education, Juneteenth

TOGETHER NC: Cuts alone would devastate North Carolina's families

More than 80 groups united on Tuesday to send state lawmakers a message: preserving public investment in North Carolina is worth raising much-needed revenues.

Closing North Carolina's budget gap with cuts alone will devastate families and communities across the state, the groups say, and will deepen and prolong the recession as well. A balanced approach that includes strategic tax increases along with judicious cuts is the best way to protect working families and avoid prolonging the recession. 

"Unfortunately, because of the current budget crisis, all we've been hearing is about how we need to slash vital programs," said George Reed of the NC Council of Churches. "This one-sided approach isn't going to work, and it will set back decades of progress. Now is the time for our lawmakers to show courage and leadership by raising the revenue our state needs to prosper."

Together NC, a broad and diverse coalition of non-profit organizations, service providers, and professional associations, is joining with newly allied organizations and supportive individuals to call for smart revenue solutions that preserve vital programs.

The news conference took place amidst a series of Together NC town hall discussions held across the state. After hearing countless stories from North Carolinians about the importance of public programs and services, Together NC wants elected officials to hear from people in communities across North Carolina so that legislators can make budget decisions that support communities and families and do not undermine the state's economic recovery. The next events will be held in these locations:

DURHAM EVENT: June 3, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 PM
NC Central University Campus
H.M. Michaux, Jr. School of Education Auditorium
 
WINSTON-SALEM EVENT: June 3, 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
The Children's Home (Edwards Building)
1001 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem
 
PITTSBORO EVENT: June 4, 7 p.m.-9 p.m.
Pittsboro Campus of Central Carolina Community College
Building 2, Multi-purpose room
 
ROCKY MOUNT EVENT: June 4, 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
Edgecombe Community College Auditorium
225 Tarboro Street
 
IMMIGRATION: NC groups join growing national movement for reform
On Monday, advocacy groups, faith groups, labor organizations and concerned individuals called on national leaders to enact just, humane immigration reform. At a news conference in Raleigh, speakers urged Congress to create clear, common-sense path to U.S. citizenship for immigrants.

"Imagine being separated from the people you love most in the world, your family," said Sister Attracta Kelly, an immigration attorney with the NC Justice Center. "Imagine this separation taking years, even decades to resolve.  Sadly, many people my colleagues and I at the Justice Center work with every day don't have to imagine."

Currently, the outdated system denies a common-sense process for immigrants to come to the United States legally or gain legal status. This tears apart families and undermines key protections for workers. Comprehensive immigration reform would help North Carolina communities take advantage of contributions immigrants make to our society and economy.

Speakers also cited the economic benefits of immigration, which would only be enhanced by creating a clear path to citizenship.

One in twenty workers in the U.S. workforce -- 5.4% -- are undocumented.  They are vulnerable to employers who seek unfair advantage over their competitors by not paying workers minimum wage or by ignoring labor rights protected by law. 

"There is a broad national consensus that the immigration system is broken, unfair, and in urgent need of reform," said Dani Martinez-Moore, Coordinator of the NC Network of Immigrant Advocates at the NC Justice Center. "Congress and the President must reform immigration to unite families, to boost our economy, and to create a lasting solution that is fair to everyone."

So far, the Reform Immigration FOR America efforts in North Carolina have involved American Friends Service Committee's Project Voice, Latin American Coalition (Charlotte), NC Council of Churches, NC Justice Center, El Pueblo, and other North Carolina residents who care about these issues. Today is a first step in launching the campaign, and the groups are inviting more organizations and individuals to join in working together for positive changes in federal law.

 
HEALTH CARE: NC Health Choice: the right choice for kids
"NC Health Choice for Children is an essential program providing an important safety net for children," writes Adam Linker in this week's Legislative Bulletin, distributed on Tuesday to lawmakers. Moreover, North Carolina has significant financial incentives to maintain a robust commitment to the program.
"Health Choice uses generous federal matching funds to stimulate local economies," Linker continues. "And we know that even a temporary freeze in enrollment will hurt access to medical care for thousands of children."
This adds up to a strong case for maintaining the valuable public investment in the program. Linker's main points include:
 
  • If North Carolina freezes enrollment in North Carolina Health Choice for Children the state will surrender $15 million in federal funds over two years. For every state dollar North Carolina spends on health insurance for children, the federal government spends three dollars to help fund our state’s program.
  • When the state temporarily capped Health Choice enrollment in 2001, the number of children in the program declined rapidly and continued to drop even when Health Choice was reopened.
  • From 2007 to 2009 the number of uninsured in North Carolina increased 22.5 percent – the largest percentage increase in the nation. Health Choice is a vital safety net program that protects our state’s most vulnerable citizens – children.
 
PAID SICK DAYS: First-ever Senate hearing on Thursday
 
The NC Sick Days Coalition is fighting for legislation that would guarantee every worker a certain amound of paid sick days. This would promote public health, save employers money, and represent a key new labor standard.
This week a landmark event reflects a steps forward in the movement to pass the essential pro-family legislation -- and you can help.

The Senate version of the Healthy Families and Healthy Workplaces Act, SB 534 , is set to be heard in the Senate Commerce Committee this upcoming Thursday morning, June 4.  This is a historic first-ever hearing of our paid sick days legislation in the Senate.  Your Senators need to hear from you in advance of the hearing that North Carolinians support paid sick days for all workers.  Click here to take action. 
 
EDUCATION: A Charlotte forum on the School Violence Prevention Act
Bullying and harassment are major problems in North Carolina schools. The School Violence Prevention Act seeks to address all forms of school violence and protect every student.
A town hall forum in Charlotte co-sponsored by the Justice Center's NCCARE project, ACLU-NC, Equality NC, NARAL, Prevent School Violence NC and The Freedom School for Social Justice will let people hear important information about this legislation. Attendees will get the opportunity to:
  • Hear from student speakers about school violence
  • Learn about one parent’s struggle to protect their child from bullying
  • Join a network of organizations working to protect the rights of all students.
WHEN/WHERE
6:30-8:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 11
Unity Fellowship Church
2127 Eastway Drive
Charlotte NC 28205
 
JUNETEENTH: 5th annual Durham Juneteenth event planned for June 20
Triangle Cultural Awareness Foundation will present the 5th Annual Durham Juneteenth Celebration & Unity March on Saturday, June 20, 2009 in Forest Hills Park. Often cited as the African American Independence Day, the celebration of Juneteenth originates from Galveston, Texas, where on June 19th, 1865, the word of the Emancipation Proclamation reached the enslaved. In 2007, North Carolina became the 27th state to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or a state holiday observance.
With the theme “To Form a More Perfect Union”, the event begins with a march from Mt. Vernon Baptist Church (1007 S. Roxboro St.) at 11:00 am with men and women marching with children (biological or not), church and school groups, athletic associations, civic organizations, advocates, etc. for emancipation from modern-day forms of bondage (drugs, gangs, violence, rape, abuse, homelessness, poverty, etc.). Marchers are encouraged to wear t-shirts, etc. that identifies their organization and/or cause.
When the processional ends at Forest Hills Park, the Juneteenth Celebration begins with an Opening Ceremony. Entertainment throughout the day will feature local and national recording artists performing gospel, R&B, jazz and urban music, praise dancing, step, spoken word and more. The U.S. Postal Service will dedicate their annual Black Heritage Stamp at the event.
Vendors from the area sell an array of African and African-American clothing, art and artifacts, specialty items, crafts and delicious foods. Organizations will have booths that inform of services and activities available in Durham and surrounding areas. Experts in their respective fields provide information, activities, and demonstrations.
The Health Fair includes blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, sight and HIV screenings. Medical professionals from area health centers and hospitals are available for consultations. The Children's Village has activities, games, arts and crafts and other fun, educational activities and information for children of all ages. Art from world renowned and local artists will be on display and on sale in the Art Pavilion.
The 5th Annual Durham Juneteenth Celebration & Unity March is organized by Triangle Cultural Awareness Foundation (TriCA), a project of the National Heritage Foundation, an IRS Code Section 501(c) (3) corporation. Another Coley Event conducts the major project activities of TriCa.

For more information call (919) 680-0465 or visit www.durhamjuneteenth.com

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