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:

CCNE celebrates 15 years


 On November 15 leaders who have put their heart and soul into CCNE during these 15 exciting years came together to reflect on and celebrate the work. CCNE is fighting every day to break down barriers to employment, to change bad jobs into good, and to harness economic growth for racial justice.


Rev. Samuel Rodriguez calls on Latino faith leaders to Unite for Social Justice

“We need to hold those in power accountable. Look at that Governor and say, ‘we remember. We do not forget. You broke your promise to our community. You put 400,000 plus at risk.’ This is about saving lives!” -Rev. Samuel Rodriguez

One of America’s Most Influential Faith Leaders Calls on Latinos to Unite for Social Justice

On February 25, 220 Hispanic Religious leaders from across Connecticut gathered at the Omni Hotel in New Haven to hear Rev. Samuel Rodriguez speak about the need for Latinos to unite for social justice. The Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care invited Rev. Rodriguez, an inspirational leader for the Hispanic Evangelical movement, to speak on issues that disproportionately affect their communities. Rev. Rodriguez called on the religious leaders in the room to take a more active stand in addressing issues such as economic disparities and health care for all.

As the leading spokesperson for Hispanic Evangelicals, Rev. Rodriguez has been a featured speaker in White House and Congressional meetings on Hispanic-American issues and justice concerns. He is President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, America’s largest Hispanic Christian Organization with 30,621 member churches.

(U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, Juan Figueroa, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Rev. Dr. Moses Mercedes, and Rev. Abraham Hernandez. Photo courtesy of  Oscar Santa Cruz)

The Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care – a multiracial, multicultural group of religious leaders of diverse faith traditions- hosted the event because it is imperative to meet the health care crisis.  400,000 individuals are left without insurance in CT, most of them people of color.

Rev. Abraham Hernandez, co-chair of the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care, accepted Rev. Rodriguez’s call to action. “Why should thousands of our people be denied the care they need? Are we not also children of God? Do we deserve life…do we deserve health care any less than our wealthy brethren? By working for health care for all I am saying it is wrong -it is sinful– to treat people unequally when we are all equal in the eyes of God. It goes against our faith and it is destroying our communities,” Hernandez said.

As a faith leader, Bishop Manuel Caban says he is called to save more than just souls. “As Pastors we are called to save souls, but we are also called to save lives. Many people in my community do not have health care. They work two, sometimes three jobs to put food on the table, to provide for their children,” he said. “But they can’t afford to see a doctor. When someone gets sick we pray for them, we collect donations to pay their hospital bills, we give all we can as a church. But it is not always enough. That is why we must unite! We must call on our state’s leaders to remedy this cruel situation.”

“We believe together, we pray together. So why should we suffer alone, in silence? When we see unjust laws and immoral systems we must also come together,” stated Rev. Dr. Moses Mercedes of the Prince of Peace Church in Bridgeport. “When the immoral health care system subjects our people to higher rates of preventable illness, when medical debt keeps us from rising out of poverty, when our loved ones die because they can’t afford treatment -we MUST not suffer alone, in silence. We must take action –together!”


Uno de los líderes religiosos más influyentes de Estados Unidos hace un llamado a la comunidad latina para unirse por la justicia social

25 de febrero– 220 líderes religiosos hispanos provenientes de toda la extensión del estado de Connecticut se reunieron en el Omni Hotel para escuchar al Rev. Samuel Rodríguez hablar sobre la necesidad de que la comunidad latina se una por la justicia social. Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care invitó al Rev. Rodríguez, inspirador líder del movimiento Evangélico hispano, para que hablara sobre asuntos que afectan de manera desproporcionada a sus comunidades. El Rev. Rodríguez hizo un llamado a los líderes religiosos presentes a que adopten una postura más activa para tratar asuntos como las disparidades económicas y los servicios de salud para todas las personas.

Como el principal portavoz de Evangélicos hispanos, el Rev. Rodríguez ha sido un orador destacado en la Casa Blanca y en reuniones del Congreso con respecto a asuntos concernientes a la comunidad hispano-americana y cuestiones de justicia. Es Presidente de la Conferencia Nacional de Liderazgo Cristiano Hispano (National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference), la Asociación Evangélica Hispana (the Hispanic Evangelical Association), es decir, la mayor organización cristiana hispana de Estados Unidos, integrada por 30,621 iglesias.

(Rev. Samuel Rodriguez fires up the crowd. Photo courtesy of Oscar Santa Cruz)

Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care, un grupo multirracial y multicultural de líderes religiosos con diversas tradiciones religiosas, organizó el evento porque es imperativo resolver la crisis de salud.  En CT, 400,000 personas no tienen seguro médico, la mayoría gente de color.

El Rev. Abraham Hernández, co-presidente del Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care, aceptó el llamado a la acción del Rev. Rodríguez. “¿Por qué negar a miles de personas los servicios que necesitan? ¿Acaso no somos también hijos de Dios? ¿Acaso somos menos merecedores de la vida…o de los servicios de salud que nuestros hermanos adinerados? Al trabajar por los servicios de salud para todas las personas, estoy diciendo que está mal, que es un pecado, no tratar a todas las personas por igual cuando todos somos iguales ante los ojos de Dios. Esto va en contra de nuestra fe y está destruyendo a nuestras comunidades”, dijo Hernández.

Obispo Manuel Cabán dice que es llamado para salvar más que tan solo almas. “Como pastores somos llamados para salvar almas, pero también para salvar vidas. Muchas personas en mi comunidad no reciben servicios de salud. Trabajan dos y a veces tres trabajos, para poner comida en la mesa, para mantener a sus hijos”, dijo él. “Pero no pueden pagar por los servicios de un médico. Cuando alguien se enferma, rezamos por esa persona; recolectamos donaciones para pagar sus facturas hospitalarias; damos todo lo que podemos como iglesia. Pero no siempre es suficiente. ¡Por eso debemos unirnos! Debemos instar a los líderes de nuestro estado a que resuelvan esta cruel situación.”

“Si creemos juntos y oramos juntos, ¿por qué debemos sufrir solos, en silencio? Cuando vemos leyes injustas y sistemas inmorales, también debemos unirnos”, afirmó el Rev. Dr. Mosés Mercedes de la Iglesia Prince of Peace, en Bridgeport. “Cuando el sistema de salud inmoral sujeta a nuestra gente a tasas más altas de enfermedades evitables, cuando las deudas médicas nos impiden salir de la pobreza, cuando nuestros seres queridos mueren porque no pueden pagar por tratamiento médico, NO DEBEMOS sufrir solos, en silencio. ¡Debemos tomar acción, juntos!”

New Hope for New Haven

We’re in the Nation! Paul Bass’s in-depth article on the the recent shift in power at the city level and the many challenges we’re now working to overcome discusses CCNE in the context of the broader community, labor, clergy movement for economic and social justice in New Haven.


“New Hope for New Haven, Connecticut”

January 25, 2012

Paul Bass, The Nation

(Here’s a sneak preview:)

“In the past two decades the city has made advances in immigration policy, revived its downtown core, encouraged a vibrant arts community and, until the mid-aughts, developed a nationally recognized community policing program. …

Despite that progress, interest and participation in local democracy has withered in New Haven, as it has in so many cities where federally funded patronage has dried up. …

Nor have the recent advances made much of a dent in the city’s high poverty and unemployment rates, largely dependent on decisions by state and national lawmakers and corporations. The most enduring poverty-prevention effort of the past three decades has probably been the unionization of Yale’s pink-collar workers and their subsequent success in a series of strikes. That union, Local 34 of UNITE HERE (whose international represents workers in textile, manufacturing, hotel, food service and other fields), now has some 3,500 members. Combined with the roughly 1,000-member blue-collar Local 35, the Yale unions have preserved living wages and good benefits for a big chunk of the city. And they’ve developed into the largest organized political force independent of City Hall. …

Meanwhile, often below the radar, Yale’s unions and their nonelectoral policy spinoff, the Connecticut Center for a New Economy, have built an independent base and started to craft an independent agenda. Since 2004 CCNE has launched grassroots initiatives on social, economic and voting issues as well as a Civic Leadership Institute. Union members and allies have knocked on tens of thousands of doors and have pulled together survey data on the issues people care about. All that work, along with some unconventional strategy, paid off in last fall’s municipal elections.”

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