Blog - Rights and Democracy

Bernie Won Vermont, But So Did Trump

On Tuesday, Bernie Sanders won Vermont's Democratic primary in a landslide victory, with 115,863 votes. Unfortunately, Donald Trump also won Vermont, taking home 19,968 votes. We can't let Trump's hateful and racist rhetoric drive the direction of Vermont politics, and we need you to show our leaders it's time for an agenda that supports working families. 

Please join Rights & Democracy for a press conference to launch "Raise Up Vermont", a new grassroots campaign to call on elected leaders to build an economy that works for ALL of us. 

As Rebecca Haslam, Vermont’s 2015 State Teacher of the Year and RAD Advisor said in her speech at Bernie Sanders' Super Tuesday rally, "the political revolution isn’t about one candidate; it is about a movement, and the movement has to start right here in Vermont. We are at ground zero of the political revolution." She asked us, "Are we willing to fight for economic justice? Are we willing to fight for a universal health care system that actually works for everybody? Are we willing to fight for racial justice and equity in schools and in our communities?" 

If we are going to change the political discourse in this country, we need to come together to create the solutions our communities need. Join us.

When: 10:00am, Wednesday March 9, 2016

Where: Cedar Creek Room, Montpelier State House  

Speakers Include: Sen. Anthony Pollina (D/P - Washington Co), Rep. Jean O’Sullivan (D - Burlington), Michelle Salvador of Worcester, VT (Chair, Rights & Democracy), John Moran of Wardsboro, VT (former co-chair, Working Vermonters Caucus), Mari Cordes, RN of Lincoln, VT (Vice-president of AFT Vermont), Matt Durocher (Carpenters Union Local 1996), and Michelle Fay, Voices of Vermont’s Children. 

“We need action on the current bills in the State House to move the minimum wage towards a livable wage, to prevent workers from being misclassified as independent contractors, and for paid family leave,” said Michelle Salvador of Worcester, VT and Rights & Democracy Board Chair in a recent statement.

We hope to see you there to show the energy and excitement behind the movement for working families.

Progressive Party Calls For Fair Contract of State Workers

Vermont Progressive Party Passes Labor Resolution in Support of a Fair Contract for State Workers

Last week, the VT Progressive Party passed the following resolution drafted by our Labor Caucus in solidarity with state workers:

Whereas Governor Shumlin deliberately pushing toward imposition of contracts with VSEA Executive Branch Units rather than working toward settlement shows serious disrespect for the collective bargaining process; and

Whereas Governor Shumlin deliberately failed to include a Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA ) increase for State employees in its 2017 Budget Proposals and is thereby requesting the Legislature not honor nor even acknowledge the position of State workers; and

Whereas Governor Shumlin has been incrementally expanding the size of management while at the same time pushing front line workers to provide the same level of services with fewer resources; and

Whereas some members of the Democratic leadership in the Legislature have already intruded into collective bargaining by instructing the Governor on a set of cost-cutting restrictions in the VSEA contracts; and



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What Do We Do When Violence Occurs in Our Community?

Last night a scary thing happened in our community. A man was shot and killed during a Drug Enforcement Administration raid on Elmwood Avenue that was assisted by the Burlington Police Department. To recognize the the loss of life and provide a space for healing, I am working with the One Life Initiative to organize a candlelight vigil. When violence occurs in our community, it is important that we come together to begin the healing process and provide support for people living in the neighborhood.

As of today, very little information about this incident has been released to the public from the DEA and the BPD. Concerned community members what to know what happened. Why did bullets end up in neighboring apartments? How did it result in a death? Is there body cam footage of what happened, and will it be released? We need transparency as soon as possible.

When an emergency like this occurs in our community, it’s easy to develop tunnel vision on the specific incident, but it’s crucial we consider the root causes. The circumstances suggest the individual who died last night was involved in drug trading. I grew up in Rutland and later moved to San Francisco, where I worked as a teacher. I saw many of my students deal drugs because they couldn't get a job with their criminal record or because they needed to make their rent payment. People often get involved in dealing drugs when they have no legitimate means of employment or they need to numb the negative material conditions of their life. If we had a vibrant, equitable economy that met everyone’s needs, maybe this death could have been avoided.

Note: The vigil is being organized by The One Love Initiative, a broad collaboration of community organizations and concerned individuals fighting for racial justice and community safety. Members of Rights & Democracy, the Vermont Workers’ Center, Peace and Justice Center, and a number of other organizations will join.

Report Back from Paris Climate Talks

Dear Friends,

My name is Aly Johnson-Kurts and I just returned to my home state of Vermont from the UN climate talks in Paris. If the negotiations have made anything clear, it’s that we can’t expect the deal to provide the solutions we need for a liveable future – the real work is up to us.

That’s why I want to invite you to join Rights & Democracy’s Jobs, Justice, Climate campaign.

Climate change represents the greatest threat to the future of our communities in Vermont, New Hampshire and around the globe. Unless we act boldly now, this crisis will continue to devastate ecological systems, vulnerable populations, and our very means for survival on this planet. You may have seen the video of me interrupting our governor in Paris – I felt it was necessary to address his support for the proposed fracked gas pipeline, which is a false solution to our crisis.

The Jobs, Justice, Climate campaign calls for real solutions – to cut greenhouse gas emissions and move to 100% clean energy, revolutionize our transportation and housing infrastructure, and stop extraction of fossil fuels. Through this critical process we must ensure a just transition, where democracy is strengthened, racism and justice are at the forefront of the conversation, and good jobs are created.

To carry out this campaign, Rights & Democracy is working with our partners across the region, including the People’s Climate Movement, 350-VT, 350-NH, NextGen-NH and more, to canvass door-to-door, hold town meetings, and produce recommendations for even bolder action to address the crisis.

Will you sign on to join the Jobs, Justice, Climate campaign now?

Thanks for all you do,


“Fracked Gas = Climate Change” RAD's Aly Johnson-Kurts speaks out in Paris

PARIS - Rights & Democracy’s Communication Director Aly Johnson-Kurts spoke out at a panel at the UN climate negotiations with Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin to address his unacceptable support for the Vermont fracked gas pipeline. Check out video of Aly here on Twitter:

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200+ participate at RAD Summit, Candidate’s Panel, Minter a No-Show

Impressions from the Candidate Forum at the Rights & Democracy Summit

What a dynamic day! Over 200 working Vermonters flowed in and out throughout the entire day. It was a great start for us in building towards the 2016 elections where we will be shaking up the political establishment.    


We began the day with our partners at Public Assets Institute and Vermont Interfaith Action presenting on building a moral economy in Vermont with panelists Rep. Kiah Morris, Rep. Christopher Pearson, Erhard Manhke and Karen Lafayette. 

Workshops through the day focused on important topics like:

  • Vermont’s Labor Movement

  • Racial Justice

  • Criminal Justice Reform

  • Political Organizing and Candidate Training

  • Jobs, Justice & Climate  

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What would you ask our next Governor?

On December 5th, we will be hosting a Vermont Gubernatorial candidate's panel as part of our Rights & Democracy Summit – Building an Economy For People & The Planet. It will serve as the closing plenary to a full day of exciting workshops and speakers.

We need your help to shape the panel discussion, so we're asking for input from our supporters.

Fill out the 1 minute survey to tell us what what questions you would like to ask our next governor!

We know Vermonters care about a range of issues including livable wages, climate change, private prisons and more. What should our panel emphasize? Use the survey to let us know.

See you December 5th!
The Rights & Democracy Team 

P.S. If you haven't sent an RSVP for our Summit, please register now!


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