Blog - Rights and Democracy

Op-Ed: People and the Planet Over Profit

By Jeffrey P. Caesar

How can one call this country a democracy? — The most significant decisions made regarding our economy have bypassed our elected officials, for corporate interests. Washington’s relationship with Wall Street is a caustic love affair that costs billions to Americans each year. Our rights to a democracy have been stripped and it is time we take them back. Placing People and the Planet Over Profit combats the effects of climate change and economic entrapment, by dismantling the stuck elements of our economic infrastructure that prevent real progress from taking shape. In this fight, Rights & Democracy Vermont works to address these issues on the principles that Vermonters [and all Americans] hold the fundamental right to a healthy environment and livable planet. By pushing forth groundbreaking change, we strive to reinstate the democratic values on which our economic and political system, and and bring power back to the people. Given the impending crisis that is global climate change, we need to do this now. Although many of us remain discontented with the 2016 Presidential Election, we must be unrelenting in our our progress forward on the local level, from here on out. As we all have come to learn, the show will go on with or without us. as the show will go on with or without us.


The framers of the U.S. Constitution defended sovereign power within a democracy is to be, “...inherent in the people, and is either exercised by themselves or by their representatives.” Yet, regardless of one's own party ties, the truth remains constant: corporate interests define American public policy, circumventing the democratic process. Longstanding corporate-bureaucratic nepotism shapes U.S. policy on all fronts. Corporate media and elections buyout withholds the ability of the public to define the economic policies  that shape their community, and how their country operates on the global stage.

These industries [and their representatives] see human rights and environmental justice as an obstruction to profit, and this drama presently unfolds in the circus that is this Presidential election. During the recent televised Presidential debate, there was saddeningly little mention of climate change and no mention of the ongoing, historic struggle of the Standing Rock Lakota tribe and their fight to protect  their water from the corporate profiteers attempting to build a fossil fuel pipeline through their land.  This blaring disregard of American people, our rights, and our planet clearly illustrates the challenge of our time.

Climate Change alone is not the issue: It’s the economics behind existing energy infrastructure, originally designed to advance fossil fuels, with the assumption of infinite fossil fuels & without knowledge of their link to devastating climate change. The existing energy infrastructure presents our most comprehensive network of challenges. We must rethink our individual and collective roles in our energy economy and take control of how it exists, and impacts our local and national economic-ecosystems. Our approach to combating climate change is to return control of the economic system back to the people it was meant to serve. Thus, transformative business solutions are our biggest ally in this fight. They hold incredible potential to innovate upon local democratized clean-energy economies that build and retain community capital.  Regardless of design, it’s up to the us to rethink norms and find new ways to get there. We are dedicated towards dramatically pushing forth progressive benchmarks and accountability measures for our economy, the state of our environment, our energy infrastructure, and the democratic process of Vermont and this great country.

To ensure those rights, a Clean and Green New Deal would:

  1. Target health and quality of life for all, rather than infinite economic growth.

  2. Advance energy democracy and facilitate a just transition to mobilize for renewable, community-based power.

  3. Initiate an emergency clean water and clean energy infrastructure effort to rebuild outdated public drinking water and inadequate sewer systems that are poisoning people and the planet.

  4. Divest, democratize, localize and decarbonize the Vermont economy.

  5. Protect and restore Vermont’s forests, wetlands, and waters.

  6. Protect and restore Vermont’s soils, grasslands, and croplands.

In closing, We cannot afford a Donald Trump Presidency, nor can we endure another legacy of special interest White House policy, paid for by big business and the fossil fuel lobby.  We must do more than just elect Hillary Clinton as President and Sue Minter as Governor. We must to elect candidates up and down the ticket who support these issues and the green political revolution— David Zuckerman for Lieutenant Governor, Chris Pearson and Debbie Ingram for State Senate, and people running for the State House like Mari Cordes.  Just as importantly, we must build a political mandate around a bold agenda and keep pushing beyond the election.  


Jeffrey P. Caesar is a member of Rights & Democracy and Social Entrepreneur. He will be speaking about a Clean and Green New Deal for Vermont at the October 10th Indigenous People's Day Rally: "People and The Planet Over Profit". The rally starts at 5pm at the Dudley Davis Center at the University of Vermont. More information is available at


Supporting BTV Teachers & Holding All Elected Officials Accountable

Why we should support Burlington teachers (and hold all elected officials accountable)

By James Haslam

I am writing to express my support for the Burlington teachers’ efforts to settle a fair contract, and I was spurred to do it today after reading an editorial by Brian Cina, my own School Board member, attacking teachers’ tuition reimbursement benefits.  More on that later.

Everyone should be a stakeholder in supporting teachers and public education, not just someone like me who’s been married to one for more than a decade. Over that time  I have witnessed how much of themselves teachers give to the well-being of the community.

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Bringing the revolution home

Commentary | September 11,2016  | Times Argus - Rutland Herald
Robert Layman / Staff Photo Sen. Bernie Sanders receives a warm welcome before speaking this week at the Middlebury Labor Day Political Revolution Party on the Middlebury town green.
Together we win. This simple statement has fueled Rights & Democracy in our first year of grass-roots organizing and political activism in Vermont and New Hampshire.

We were reminded of this collective effort to bring to life a political revolution at two separate Labor Day events in the states that helped launch Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid.

More than 700 people came out to both Labor Day Political Revolution Parties held in Warner, N.H., and Middlebury. These events not only celebrated the one-year anniversary of Rights & Democracy, but brought together activists from front-line organizations like, and politicians who Rights & Democracy helped win crucial primaries, such as Sen. David Zuckerman, who is running for lieutenant governor as a Progressive/Democrat. We expect similar progressive victories in New Hampshire’s primary next week.

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Erin Stillson - DNC Reflection

I went down to Philly, ready for anything.  I expected to be met with hostility, anger, and force.  I was motivated by love for my fellow sisters and brothers, but was willing to be arrested, to fight, to use my body as a shield for any injustice that came to any of my comrades. Instead, I walked into city hall and they greeted me with open arms, love, and gratitude.


The cops stood as sentinels along the perimeter of all areas, and they tend to make me tense, but instead I smiled, and they smiled back.  One even encouraged my chanting at the DNC protest, (much to his fellow officer's chagrin), and tossed me a cold bottle of water when he saw I was over heating.  Men and women would identify with a sign, or pin, or a smile even, and would walk up and hug me, passing on beautiful thoughts of hope, encouragement, and most of all, Unity. There was a woman who handed me a rose, to show peace and love. One woman placed a handmade bracelet on my wrist, in gratitude for my time and showing solidarity. That bracelet will have to rot off my wrist, because it is now a symbol I will never forget and will never remove. there were some counter-protestors that were hateful and violent in speech, for example a religious group that was preaching that black lives matter was a terrorist group and anti-abortion rhetoric, holding up pictures of aborted babies. My blood was boiling and I screamed at them with so much strength they physically jumped back, but then we joined hands around them and chanted back louder and stronger " BLACK LIVES MATTER!" "WOMEN'S LIVES MATTER!" and threw in the occasional "BREEDERS!"  chant, because it broke the attention and made us laugh, was our moment of triumph.

I was fortunate to have attended with some truly amazing women who helped me navigate the city and provided support in every way.  On the fist day in the city, we went to the People's Convention, which was an amazing experience itself. I participated in a lot of peer led groups, each with different topics, ie.. " what brought you here physically, emotionally, politically, spiritually…" "what is power, and how do we use it to the benefit of the people?" etc… there were many great conversations that erupted from those topics, and I was encouraged to meet so many progressive delegates that came to Philadelphia early to participate in those conversations, there were at least 20 there.   I met people from all over the country there, some from the deep red state of Nebraska, who bore glad tidings that the state was moving blue or green.  It seemed like there were reports all over the nation that there was a lot of revolutionary uprising met with fierce and violent opposition. People were afraid that the country "wasn't ready" for that kind of revolution.  I am hopeful that I changed more than a few minds after explaining that the national climate is approaching what it was in the civil rights movement, and it was even scarier back then because they didn’t have the  letter of the law on their side. Because of their brave and hard work, we have the law on our side,  we have social media that allows us to communicate directly with each other, (Harriet Tubman didn’t have these things yet managed to organize effectively), and we have a generation of people who are more informed and involved than ever before.   


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Political revolution comes home, VT primary results

The political revolution comes home to Vermont!

Yuuuge thanks to everyone who worked their tails off to get to last night and all the candidates who put themselves out there to represent our communities. We could not be more thrilled with the Democratic primary results. Dave Zuckerman winning the Lieutenant Governor race is a progressive earthquake to Vermont’s political establishment. The fact that our choices for Chittenden County Senate, Debbie Ingram and Chris Pearson, both won the two open seats in a very competitive race is amazing. In competitive House races against establishment candidates Mari Cordes (Addison 4), Selene Colburn (Chittenden 6-4), Brian Cina (Chittenden 6-4) and Rae Fields (Bennington 2-1) all won. Debbie, Mari and Selene are all founding leaders of Rights & Democracy, and helped us get started almost exactly a year ago. Now they are moving on to the General Election to bring the political revolution to the Statehouse.  

Big-time shout out to ALL of the candidates, those who won and lost. Running an election is incredibly hard and takes an unbelievable amount of commitment from you and your family.  We look forward to working with all of you to move this state forward. It was one of the highest voter turnouts in the history of Vermont primary elections, coming off of a wretched voter turnout in the last voter election in 2014, the lowest in our state’s history. Many didn’t vote in 2014 because they didn’t think it mattered, but now many of us realize that the stakes are too high to let other people decide things for us.   

 We need to thank everyone who has helped us build Rights & Democracy over this past year. It is incredible to witness our collective potential and how a grassroots people’s movement organization can impact the political system. I’m so proud of our team and all our members who rolled up their sleeves to make it happen. We are just getting started, but already can be proud of what we have accomplished.  

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People's Summit Report Back

By Aidan Charles


When I was first asked by RAD to go to the Peoples Summit I didn't know what it was. After researching the event and some of the speakers, and their organizations, I saw it was an opportunity I couldn't  miss. Seeing that the event was specifically designed to discuss the next stage of the movement was more than ideal because the burning question on most Sanders supporters minds at the time was exactly that, where to go from here?  As a new activist it was heartening, and so exciting to get keyed into so many players in grassroots activism across the country!

Right after walking to the opening reception I met an activist from Reclaim Chicago, a local People's Action affiliate. Once inside I was sat at a table with some activists from Flint, Michigan! It was so inspiring to hear about Reclaim Chicago's work with university students organizing some real direct action, but I was enraged and appalled to find out from the Flint activists that their emergency manager is still in place and that not much has changed. I could already tell it was going to be a great weekend because of how supportive the crowd was. With raucous cheers at the mention of revolution and real change. I never realized just how many local affiliates People's Action had across the country!


The plenary that night included Roseann Demoro, Juan Gonzales, John Nichols, Rosario Dawson and Naomi Klein who sketched out the different currents which became the wave that was the Bernie Sanders campaign. All of them emphasized the existence of different movements pre-dating this election season, and how, because of this, the movement would continue after. The next morning before the plenary they had a segment called “stories from the field” showcasing activists and leaders from a wide variety of social movements and causes. With an overall theme of racial justice, three different speakers spoke separately about black justice, muslim persecution, and indigenous rights, all three of which to me highlighted the lack of progress in America's racist ideologies.










The plenary was called “understanding our movement moment” and my favorite speaker from that was Francis Fox Piven, a renowned social researcher.  From Piven there was  a ringing call to have a hands-on approach to change, reminding us of the fierce fights for trade unions and civil rights, and how the people must act vigorously because these struggles are never easily won.

The next plenary featured Nina Turner, Tulsi Gabbert, and Jesus (Chuy) Garcia. Nina Turner ROCKED the crowd and got numerous standing ovations echoing her call to action with the phrase "doers of the deeds.”. Tulsi was my favorite for this plenary because her entire speech was devoted to our interventionist policies throughout the world and specifically in the Middle East, a topic that is not often enough touched upon in American discourse.

My two breakouts were “building independent political power” and “runaway inequality” (economics for activists). “Building independent political power” had a lot of presenters from different people's action affiliates like Maine People’s Alliance and Michigan United, as well as Richard Eskow who is a pretty big name and was one of the head speechwriters for Bernie Sanders. The People's action affiliates talked about their different organizations’ key issues and victories and what they focus on in order to be successful. Leadership training was a term that kept coming up, though I wish they further explained the avenues through which people can obtain that training. Another presenter mentioned the need for a coalition of grassroots organizations so that we can have a larger voice while at the same time not competing for the spotlight as different larger organizations might.  They allowed questions at the end and I asked about specific leadership training opportunities that they would recommend and they recommended the weeklong People’s Action leadership training. So I'll be looking to do that at some point for sure.


The second breakout was “runaway inequality” with Les Leopold, founder of the Labor Institute. It was very informative and included the statistics that Bernie references quite often, as well as many others that detail the redistribution of wealth to the top 1%. The people speak was dramatic narrations of selections from a People's history by Howard Zinn and were amazingly powerful because they could almost perfectly apply to many problems of today's United States. Underlining the systemic class divides of capitalism. Interestingly, about a week before I left I ordered “A People's History” from Amazon, so now I'll really be able to solidify those narratives in my mind.

The closing day we got to organize regionally and talk about concrete next steps for each of us by individually filling out commitments as well as having a discussion about the obstacles in our way and solutions to them. Overall the weekend was hugely empowering and was much needed to stem my reoccurring pessimism. I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to go and was constantly awash with excitement and optimism. That being said, there were hypocrisies as with anything, most notably the representatives there were not as diverse as Chicago itself or even the serving staff, and interestingly there was many disposable items throughout the entire event. Also, the water coolers were from Nestlé.  While I may be overthinking it, I think this brings to light an interesting point about idealism and reality and the intersection of activists and society, because even in our efforts to organize against the dominant system we use its infrastructure, which is subject to the system's  often destructive underlying ideologies and tendencies. Think about someone driving to a climate justice rally for example.

To conclude, I can't thank Rights & Democracy enough for the absolutely incredible opportunity to grow as an activist and a dissident. Leaving the summit I have a profound sense of purpose to continue on the path I've set for myself; becoming a civil rights lawyer and participating in as much direct action as I can, ideally participating in whatever new party will inevitably surface. Coming back to Vermont my focus will be on the local front as there is so much to be done even in a progressive state like Vermont: we still don't have an ethics commission, a living wage, or affordable health care! Sometimes I feel helpless when I think about all the work to do, but that's why I find it so fulfilling to participate in an organization that lets me fight for myself, for others, and for our values. It's impossible to thank Rights & Democracy enough for providing me with an outlet for action!

In solidarity,

Aidan Charles

Breakfree Albany

Breakfree Albany (5/14/16) Reflection

by Grant Taylor

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” - Mahatma Gandhi

When Liberty Bus Lines pulled into Lincoln Park (South End of Albany, New York) there wasn’t much sign of what was to come during the next 8 hours. Signs were strewn about on the ground, about 50 people were gathered around talking, a PA system was being set up, and the sun was shining.

Someone got onto our bus and introduced us to the Breakfree Action Event with some enthusiastic shouting, this was a great way to get our adrenaline pumping. After all, we had just travelled about 3 hours and it was 9:30 am, needless to say we appreciated the energizing wake up. By 10:30 a lot more people had showed up, maybe 900 or 1500, I don’t know. 


We were first introduced to the event by a local pastor over the loudspeaker. Other local leaders, and professionals spoke, introducing the audience to the problems: public health and safety, environmental racism and environmental justice issues, emergency response, and environmental resource protection such as clean air and water among others.

A specifically important issue in Albany, New York, is the dangerous crude oil being carried in the rail cars to the Port of Albany to be loaded onto ships for further distribution to refineries. The problem with the railroad carrying this material has been shown in more than 10 tragedies where the DOT 111 Railroad Car, not designed to carry flammable liquids, has overturned, spilled, and exploded. These horrific accidents have taken the lives of over 50 people from Lac Megantic in Canada, to Texas. These cars are passing within 50 feet of homes and playgrounds in downtown Albany, and the DOT Evacuation Zone for a spill is .5 mile, with a Potential Impact Zone of 1 mile. Check out this recording from PBS, minutes 48:53 - 56:15.


After the introduction in … we split into two groups and marched to our initial action locations. One group went directly to an intersection of railroad tracks and road right outside the Global Partners property, which would shut down their business for the day.

The group I marched with headed towards a low income housing community located within 50 feet of these dangerous trains. We would meet up with the others later on, a little to the north of the community housing.


Citizens who live in the Ezra Prentice Community of low income housing, a predominantly black population, are unfairly positioned to experience the deadly impacts in the case of an emergency. This is blatant systematic environmental racism being perpetuated by big oil lobbyists influencing policy that allows such a potentially disastrous system to continue unchecked.

The American based energy supply company Global Partners LP has been moving Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to Albany by rail since 2012. Once in the port of Albany the oil is offloaded from the trains and loaded onto ships bound for refineries on the East Coast. In 2014, the amount of oil rolling through the port tripled without any community input.


There is a major concern from the residents about a foul smell of gasoline and oil fumes from the Global Partners property and crude oil business. While the company is following all regulations and permits, and the toxins released in the process are within acceptable limits determined by the federal government, the citizens are still marginalized and neglected. The discrimination is clear, states and cities pay more attention to more affluent communities. Bad smelling air, dirty water, noise pollution, broken roads and sidewalks, and more are mitigated for citizens and communities who contribute more to the economy...


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Erin Stillson - Raise Up

Blog post by Erin Stillson - a member of Rights & Democracy VT, a new resident of Richmond, VT a mother of two and a tireless activist for social justice.

To explain why I support the Rights And Democracy movement is best done by explaining why the issues are important to me.


I had been raised in a restrictive religion, which sheltered me greatly and taught me to be afraid of the world around me. I became aware that I was wasting my life and one day I packed a duffel bag and left home.

I moved to a nearby city for about a year but realized this was still playing it safe, so when I was given an option to transfer to New York City I took it.  After weeks of feeling sick and always tired, I found out I was pregnant. I worked on %100 commission, so not being able to converse intelligently with someone meant I couldn’t sell anything.  I didn’t have any money, even though I was working sometimes 90 hours a week. I savored a box of saltines once a week, and would scrape pennies together for an apple almost every day. After weeks making only a few dollars a day, I had not been able to pay rent, and was living on the goodwill of my landlord. I was so tired I would fall asleep at stop signs, and accepted it was no longer safe to drive, so let one of my friends use my car until I could drive again… the engine seized on the highway within three weeks.  This was about the time I was told to leave my housing, and I ended up homeless without a car and pregnant.  I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find a place to live before my child was born.

I looked for a job, but looked very pregnant at six months along, and I saw the many faces fall when they looked at my swollen belly and told me they weren’t hiring.  We tried to save money on the $240 my boyfriend was making a week but it was very difficult and slow going.  I was having trouble getting medical assistance, DHHS told me I could only receive assistance if I checked into a shelter, which seemed ridiculous. Finally he got a better job, and it was exciting to be able to afford things like food and heat, and I eagerly opened bills for the satisfaction of paying them. We were approved for credit cards and I kept a few on hand in case of emergencies.  The security I had thought I was building for my daughter was an illusion, something I found out when I unraveled a story about the credit card bill I received in the mail.  He had maxed out the credit cards at work and grabbed cash from the drawers, which I found out was being used to fund the cocaine and alcohol addiction I didn’t know existed.  He claimed he didn’t do it, but he quit the job that day.  I knew I couldn’t trust him, but wanted to get a job I could support our child on my own before I left him.  I got a part time job working at a pre-school so I could send my daughter for free, $200 a week wasn’t a lot, but I slowly started putting aside my money in an account he didn’t know about. One night there was a knock on the door, and the man standing there told me he was there to repossess my car. Instead of paying that bill he had spent the money. I went to my bank a few days later to check my separate account to find it was nearly empty. He had found my debit card and spent almost all of the money I had saved.

When I realized that he was more of a liability than help,  I found a 1 bedroom with a loft in Nashua for $550 a month, I knew it was the best offer I was going to get, even though it was almost 3/4 of my income.  I took the apartment and moved in, Lilli and I had our first taste of freedom.  Buying food was a weekly concern, so I applied for food assistance and was able to get it.  Within a few months the food stamps were terminated without warning, and I had to reapply.  This process repeated every few months, and because of the processing time would mean weeks of no assistance at all until the paperwork would clear again.  Having very little money coming in and no child support, paying for groceries became impossible if I was going to keep up with my other bills.  The electric and heating bill was through the roof, and when I asked for a payment plan they said the bills were too high at that point, it was all or nothing.  I applied for fuel assistance but the deadline had passed. Within a few weeks we had no hot water, heat or electricity.  Life became primitive, with daily expenses even greater because I wasn’t able to cook. I was working 3 jobs to make my way out of debt but no matter how I tried it never seemed enough to dig myself out of the hole I had landed myself in.  One day my daughter got sick and unable to go to school, so I called work to ask if I could have the day off because she was sick.  They told me “you can, but you know we are cutting back, and I can’t guarantee you will have a job to come to tomorrow if you call out tonight.” I called her father to ask for help, explaining I would lose my job if I didn’t go, but he told me I was on my own.  Needless to say, I stayed home with my daughter and lost my job the next week. I  was unable to pay rent that month, my living situation was now hanging on the brink of nonexistence, once again. I put all my things in storage and moved out.

This  is a fairly typical story of an adventurous optimist who had the best of intentions, never shied away from hard work, and struggled for 10 years just to provide a living for her family.  There were many more years of struggling on minimum wage, with the constant threat of job loss for a sick day, wishing I had the luxury of living paycheck to paycheck,  I couldn’t buy what I needed for the week on what I made, but none more hopeless then these years mentioned. If I had been paid a living wage or been allowed a sick day, it might have been enough to save myself years of humiliation and debt, saved my debtors thousands in unpaid services, and certainly saved the state the time and money they used to assist me with food stamps for so many years off and on.  The message that is sent to someone who works hard but is still not able to provide for her child, is that she does not deserve it.  It is humiliating to ask for help and admit you are not capable of providing a basic human need for your own child. A common feeling about financial assistance is that ‘we should not be giving handouts…  that giving someone something they need to survive will only perpetuate a system of dependence, and these people need to pull themselves up and figure it out on their own.’  Yet, if hard work was all that it took to be self-sufficient, there would be hardly anyone who did need the assistance in the first place.  The wages that people are expected to ‘pull themselves up’ on are unrealistic and completely disproportionate to the actual cost of living today.

A single mother is not given any extra support in the likely event that her child gets sick, she will need either affordable and safe childcare or an excused and paid sick day.  Instead, she is left to fend for herself, with no responsibility on the father to miss work to help with childcare, and threatened with job loss for caring for her child.  I took great effort to do it all for myself, and pride in the ability to do so when I could.  I made a series of decisions that led me to this eventuality, so I created my own problems, had I chosen different paths, I might have done a lot better for myself.  However, if hard work resulted in equal and fair pay or if I were able to take a sick day without losing my job, I would have not gotten behind and overwhelmed those responsibilities.  Very few would ask for help if they were able to provide on their own, with the pride they are entitled to and to suggest otherwise is narrow-minded and cruel.  The system, as it stands, is rigged to have the lowest class struggle and fail.  Once you lose your footing, you are dragged into the undertow, and just when you think you’ve reached the surface of the water to catch your breath, on comes another wave to pull and push you back down again. If we had a living wage of $15 an hour,  paying bills and buying food wouldn’t be a luxury, it would be a given.

This is why we need to Raise up; It’s not just for single mothers and fathers and poor families trying to provide for their children, but for the pride of our country as a whole.  Nelson Mandela once said “A Nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but it’s lowest ones”  What pride is there to be had in our country if we aid the top %1 but step on the throats of the millions living in poverty?  The government has no incentive to cut off their corporate funneled greed if we do not demand justice.  When we have been beat down by the system for so long, we forget that we are not alone, and we can have a voice that makes a difference. If we raise together,  we leave no one standing alone.

To join the movement, got to

Support State Workers

This week, the Vermont Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of VSEA's last best contract offer with the Shumlin administration. Now it's up to the Legislature to fully fund it!  Please call your senators today and urge them to do their part! State employees work hard every day in economic development and in human services, helping some of the most vulnerable people in our state. They protect our land, our water, and our environment, and perform many other vital jobs that keep Vermont running. Please take 3 minutes today to make a call. The SoA office is open until 4:30pm.

Call the Sergeant at Arms office at 802-828-2228 and ask to leave a message for your senator(s).  Click here if you're not sure who they are.  

Here's a sample message you could leave with the SoA Office:

"My name is ______ and I'm calling from [[town]]. I want to leave a message for my senator(s), ________. The message is: 'Respect our state employees by fully funding the VSEA contract'."  


Op-ed: Building a political revolution on a local level

by Michelle Salvador is from Worcester, Vermont, and is the founding chair of Rights & Democracy. Janice Kelble is from Franklin, New Hampshire, and is a founder of Rights & Democracy in New Hampshire.

Rights & Democracy is a new regional grass-roots, community-based organization in Vermont and New Hampshire that is proud to have endorsed Bernie Sanders for President. We launched this organization because the political revolution Sanders has called for must be broader than his campaign, and go beyond electoral politics. Ultimately, it is about building on every level — Congress, state legislatures, municipal government, and year-round grass-roots organizing to push forward on an agenda after all the ballots have been cast. 

Senator Sanders’ slogan “Enough is Enough” has sparked a nationwide insurgency within the Democratic Party base. His campaign includes a broad agenda that mirrors the struggles of people’s movements. For decades, Sanders has stood with our communities and grass-roots organizations working for positive change. He has been with us pushing for the minimum wage to be a livable wage. He has joined us at countless picket lines to stand up for working families. He has rallied with us against corporate greed.

Sanders has been at the forefront talking about the critical need to address climate change, showing early leadership on renewable energy and a willingness to take on powerful fossil fuel interests. He has partnered with us to say health care is a right. Like us, he believes in a universal Medicare-For-All system for everyone by eliminating waste and profits. He is calling to abolish for-profit prisons, combat racism, and overhaul our broken criminal justice system. He is pushing for tuition-free public college and to invest in public infrastructure by taxing Wall Street.

We thank Senator Sanders for bringing so many of us together through his campaign and his call for a political revolution. In many ways he has already won — he has started something in our communities that will continue to build the change we need. Organizations like Rights & Democracy are using the national attention on Sanders to push his agenda at the local and state level, and the stakes are too high not to give it everything we have. We hope you will join us. 

published Times Argus Feb 29, 2016 -



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