2015 has been a very good year for citizen’s organizing to save our health, our communities, and our planet. These gains make us only more aware, and more capable, of addressing the challenges ahead. People Power in the streets, at the White House, and in Paris, is in fact the only thing that is making a real difference.
Enjoy your successes, and let’s expect more in the future:
2015 Big Win: GE crops & Bee-toxic Neonicotinoid are Banned from US National Wildlife Refuges The Fish and Wildlife Service will phase out genetically engineered crops and neonicotinoids by 2016.
2015 Big Win: We Defeated Monsanto’s “Stop GMO Labeling” Dark Act In February 2015, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) reintroduced HR 1599, a bill intended to strip states of their right to pass GMO labeling laws. The bill is officially called the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act” but activists call it the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act because it would stop GMO labeling laws in their tracks. The Center for Food Safety praised the US Congress for not including a policy rider in the must-pass federal omnibus spending bill that would have blocked states from implementing mandatory genetically engineered (GE) food labeling laws.
2015 Big Win: We Got Subway to Eliminate Antibiotics in their Meat Subway’s plan to eliminate the use of antibiotics in much of the company’s meat supply chain came just two days before consumer and environmental groups intended to deliver over a quarter of a million petition signatures calling on Subway to make clear, strong commitments to reduce antibiotics in their meat supply. Those groups include Center for Food Safety, Natural Resources Defense Council, Friends of the Earth, U.S.PIRG, and FoodBabe.com. In September, many of those groups released a scorecard report, ranking Subway and the other top 25 restaurant chains on their antibiotics policy. At the time, Subway received a failing grade.
2015 Big Win: We Raised the Pay of Walmart & Fast Food Workers On Black Friday, “OUR Walmart” — established by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union — helped organize protests at nearly 100 Walmart stores in 46 states. An estimated 500 associates walked off the job on the biggest shopping day of the year. Walmart, already faced allegations of bribery in Mexico and unsafe working conditions at its Asian suppliers, asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to block the protests, saying OUR Walmart was a union front. Black Friday was a major victory.
2015 Big Win: We Legislated Protection of our Air, Land & Waters Many organizations have used our donations to fight for our health, environment, and civil society. Put your money where it works hard, and don’t be afraid to join the email lists of these organizations. They make it easy for us to make our voices heard with the click of our mouse.
2015 Big Win: We Eliminated the NFL’s NonProfit Status Despite the fact that it is a $10 Billion a Year industry, the National Football League (NFL), despite being the most profitable sports league in the entire world, did not pay federal taxes. Since 1942, America’s biggest sports empire has qualified as a 501(c)(6) non-profit, the same designation given to business leagues, trade groups and organizations like the American Medical Association. Central bodies for hockey and golf, the National Hockey League (NHL) and The PGA Tour, also file as nonprofits, because the tax code says they work to promote their industries, not as for-profit enterprises. Commissioners of the NFL make nearly $44 million a year, earning more than the heads of companies like Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart. Through TV deals alone, the NFL has inked nearly $30 billion with various television networks. Fans are asked to foot the bill for new stadiums through our own taxes.
2015 Big Win: We Divested $3.4 Trillion in Fossil Fuels The fossil fuel divestment campaign broke a new record at COP21. More than 500 institutions representing over $3.4 trillion in assets have made some form of divestment commitment according to 350.org and Divest-Invest, two organizations coordinating the growing movement. The new numbers are another impressive leap for the divestment effort, although campaigners are quick to point out that some of the commitments are only partial divestments, and the $3.4 trillion represents the total amount of assets represented by institutions, not the amount of money divested, which is difficult to track due to varying degrees of disclosure.
2015 Big Win: We Got the EPA to Help Save the Bees More than 4 million people called on President Obama to ban neonicotinoid pesticides linked to the mass die-off of insects that pollinate a third of the world’s food supply. Conservationists presented the petition to the White House to avoid the further collapse of honeybee populations. The coalition of 125 groups including eleven of the nation’s top environmental organizations gathered the signatures in an effort to keep pressure on the administration to take action.
2015 Big Win: We Stopped the Keystone XL Pipeline A broad coalition that stood up against this pipeline and took to the streets during the People’s Climate March. This is a big win. President Obama’s decision to reject Keystone XL because of its impact on the climate sets an important precedent that should send shockwaves through the fossil fuel industry. Insiders and experts wrote us off and assured the world Keystone XL would be built by the end of 2011. Together, ranchers, tribal nations and everyday people beat this project back, reminding the world that Big Oil isn’t invincible, and that hope is a renewable resource. This fight has helped inspire resistance to a thousand other projects. Everywhere you look, people are shutting down fracking wells, stopping coal export facilities, and challenging new pipelines. If Big Oil thinks that after Keystone XL the protesters are going home, they’re going to be sorely surprised. The decision to Stop the XL Pipeline affirms the power of social movements to enact political change, and a clear sign that our movement is stronger than ever.
2015 Big Win: We Took Down the Confederate Flag This controversial Southern symbol was removed by Bree Newsome, a North Carolina educator and activist from Charlotte, North Carolina. Bree scaled a 30-foot flagpole in front of the statehouse and took down the flag by hand. Bree said, “We removed the flag today because we can’t wait any longer…We can’t continue like this another day. It’s time for a new chapter where we are sincere about dismantling white supremacy and building toward true racial justice and equality.”
2015 Big Win: We Saved Net Neutrality Again On February 26, 2015, the FCC approved strong open Internet rules under Title II of the Communications Act. This is the biggest victory for the public interest in the agency’s history. And it wouldn’t have happened if not for the millions of people who pushed the FCC to act. Many of these same people urged the government to block the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, which would have enabled Comcast to control the future of the Internet. The FCC and the Justice Department listened, and on April 24, 2015, Comcast abandoned its bid. The cable and phone companies will continue trying to undermine the open Internet, but we have organized to defend our interests.
2015 Big Win: We Preserved Peace with Iran Code Pink launched a peace insurrection outside Congress from September 8 until the final vote kicked off with a “Hands Around the Capitol.” We successfully defended diplomacy! In July, the US, Iran, Russia, China, the UK, France and Germany announced a historic agreement: The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, AKA “the Iran Deal”, to restrict Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions. On September 10, 42 Senate Democrats blocked the GOP effort to derail the Iran Deal and potentially lead us into another war of choice. Diplomacy wins!
2015 Big Win: We Stopped Arctic Drilling The Arctic is the center of one of the world’s great environmental battles. As temperatures rise in the region, the world’s largest oil companies have been eyeing vast new untapped reserves once covered year-round by ice. In the US, President Obama’s own administration estimates that there would be a 75 percent chance of a disastrous oil spill if Shell got what it originally wanted. After years of protests, Shell abandoned Arctic drilling claiming that the amount of oil it has been able to find isn’t worth the high costs of what has been one of the most dangerous and expensive projects in the history of fossil fuel extraction. The company has already spent upwards of US$7 billion trying to find oil in the Alaskan Arctic, but the environmental costs of Arctic oil are even higher.
2015 Big Win: We Stood With Malala “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen, can save the world.” Malala shared her father’s passion for learning and loved going to school. In 2009, as the Taliban’s military hold on Swat intensified, Malala began writing a blog for the BBC Urdu service under a pseudonym, about fears that her school would be attacked. Malala and her father received death threats but continued to speak out for the right to education. In 2011, she received Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and was nominated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu for the International Children’s Peace Prize. In response to her rising popularity and national recognition, Taliban leaders voted to kill her. On 9 October 2012, Malala was shot. She survived the initial attack, but was in a critical condition. The Taliban’s attempt to kill Malala received worldwide condemnation and led to protests across Pakistan. In the weeks after the attack, over 2 million people signed a right to education petition, and the National Assembly swiftly ratified Pakistan’s first Right To Free and Compulsory Education Bill. She now continues her fight for girls right to education.
2015 Big Win: Black Lives Matter A HerStory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement: The Creation of a Movement by Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors. “I created #BlackLivesMatter with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, two of my sisters, as a call to action for Black people after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was post-humously placed on trial for his own murder and the killer, George Zimmerman, was not held accountable for the crime he committed. It was a response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society and also, unfortunately, our movements. Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.” These Savvy Women Have Made Black Lives Matter the most Crucial Left Wing Movement Today.
People Power Rising! Enjoy our successes, and let’s expect more in the future.