CCNE honors MLK Day with “Celebration of Unity, Equality and Democracy”

Over the 2016 Martin Luther King Jr Day weekend, over 300 people gathered at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Bloomfield at a forum designed to promote greater democracy and end racial and economic inequality. A diverse group of Connecticut civil rights, labor, faith and community organizations came together to draft a plan for true racial and economic equality – including living wage jobs and reliable and high quality public services.

Our core problems are long term and cannot be solved by short term “band aids.” But our need to reverse the downward trend and make a difference in the lives of workers and communities is urgent and cannot wait.

Our core problems are interconnected and in many ways common. The same forces that push nearly all our economic growth to the tiniest minority of our wealthiest residents, ensure that they don’t pay their fair share of taxes. This denies state and local government the resources necessary to provide critical public services and build the critical public structures necessary to foster anything close to equal opportunity.  The same forces that appeal to bigotry, xenophobia and racism in order to divide us are the ones that attack unions for believing workers deserve decent pensions and health care, and the same forces that promote legislation that restricts workers’ rights.

We cannot allow these forces to divide us. We defeat them only by working together. The “Celebration of Unity, Equality and Democracy” was intended to kickoff both a long term Unity effort and to spur the group to engage right now in urgent actions that serve the long term change we envision.”

An ongoing coalition formed out of the event and will continue to work on key issues areas identified by the participants of founding groups, which represent close to 300,000 members across the state.




New Haven Rising leads campaign for Access to Good Jobs

Photo Courtesy of "I love New Haven"

Photo Courtesy of “I love New Haven”

On September 9th 2014 an energized crowd of over 400 residents, elected officials, and local clergy packed the Elks Lodge on Dixwell Avenue to publicly launch New Haven Rising’s campaign for Access to Good Jobs for New Haven residents. New Haven Rising is CCNE’s membership-based 501c4 ally and sister organization.

“Our city is on the rise and we are determined to rise with it,” said NHR key leader and president, Seth Poole. “We are going to improve the economic standing of the people of New Haven.”

DSC04483-001There is a jobs crisis in New Haven: unemployment, underemployment, and low wages. Of 83,000 total jobs in the city, only 19,000 are held by city residents. And of the 47,000 living wage jobs, a measly 2,000 are held by residents in under-resourced areas like the Hill, Fair Haven, and Dixwell-Newhallville.

Picture1New Haven Rising held the press conference and rally after reaching their initial goal of educating 2,000 local residents about the lack of access to livable wage jobs for residents – particularly those that live in neighborhoods of need. This powerful event was just the beginning of a concerted grassroots campaign to shift the dynamics of poverty and employment in the city.

Read more in these press articles:

Clergy activists’ “Love Ambush” a plea to expand access to health care

Clergy from across the state came together for a powerful Valentine’s “Love Ambush” Action & “Where’s the LOVE for health care?” interfaith prayer vigil

Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care, healthcare4every1, and allies in the movement for health care justice descended on the Capitol with a message for Governor Malloy (whose recent State of the State address made no mention of health care despite 2012 being the key year for states to put federal reform in place) “Don’t give all your LOVE to the insurance industry – save some for the the people!”

On Tuesday, February 14th the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care led a “Love Ambush” action & prayer vigil to remind state leaders that this is a crucial year for health care reform and the people of CT are relying on them to get it right. Frustrated by lack attention to the moral and economic crisis that is our broken health care system, the Faith leaders called on Governor Malloy and legislators to address the “Love Deficit” and “Share the Health” with all. They called for more to be done in 2012 to expand access to health care and eliminate racial and ethnic disparities.

During a moving, impassioned  vigil outside the SustiNet Cabinet meeting numerous clergy took turns leading prayers. (See below for video of Rev. Victor Gomez’s prayer, interpreted from Spanish into English by Rev. Abraham Hernandez, and check out Rev. Josh Pawelek’s blog story about the action). Clad in red and carrying banners, flowers, streamers, and handmade posters and signs, the Fellowship departed the SustiNet Cabinet meeting and led a “bleeding hearts” procession to the Office of the Governor, where they delivered hundreds of “Valentines.”  These messages of love -many made by church youth groups- called on the governor to do more to address gross inequalities and disparities in health care.

“We are standing here today because we believe in love. We believe all God’s children deserve love. We call on Governor Malloy to remember those who are being shut out, discriminated against, and kept down by the health care system. We call on him to show love for the people of Connecticut; to use his tremendous power to bring healing to the people of Connecticut. Now is the time to for boldness,” said Interfaith Fellowship co-chair Pastor Abraham Hernandez.

Rev. Josh Pawelek called on the governor and SustiNet Cabinet to do more to ensure health care for all. “Any serious health reform plan needs to include a state-sponsored public health care option. Such an option would increase consumer choice and access, control -and even reduce- health care costs,” he said. “Our Valentine’s Day wish? Take the public health care option seriously. It matters to Connecticut’s residents. Show us the love, Gov.!”

“This isn’t just a matter of politics and economics. This is a matter of deeply-held, spiritually grounded, faith-based conviction. As people of faith we are called by the Holy power in our lives to love our neighbors. We are called to work for the health and well-being of our fellow human beings – to be compassionate and caring. We are called, therefore, to work for a just health care system in our state and in our nation,” Pawelek said.


CCNE Report highlights inequality, outlines solutions

The Connecticut Center for a New Economy is proud to release our new report, A Renaissance for All of Us: Building an Inclusive Prosperity for New Haven. The release comes on the heels of a large community meeting, held December 3, 2011 at Conte-West Hills School, at which hundreds of people from around the city came together to discuss the issues facing New Haven. In a packed school cafeteria, dozens of tables held small group discussions framed by some common questions about what people thought should be the priorities for the city in the coming year. Read more