James Haslam, (802) 272-082, firstname.lastname@example.org
Aly Johnson-Kurts, (802) 595-9593, email@example.com
Montpelier, VT – On Wednesday, over 30 people gathered at a press conference to launch the new Rights & Democracy campaign “Raise Up Vermont”, where Vermont labor and community leaders called on elected officials to prioritize raising standards for working families.
“In a state where there is overwhelming support for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ agenda, it’s long overdue for Vermont to take the necessary steps to address the growing inequality between every day working Vermonters and those at the top,” said Michelle Salvador of Worcester, VT. “We need action to move the minimum wage towards a livable wage, to prevent workers from being misclassified as independent contractors, and to institute paid family and medical leave.” Salvador serves as the Chair of the Board of Rights & Democracy.
6-year Burlington resident Abdullah Sall gave personal testimony. “I fell in love with Vermont, but finding a job was difficult,” he said. “I’ve had the same job for 4 years and I still don’t make a livable wage. I’ve never had a paid day off or a day of paid vacation.”
Sall went on to connect the dots between economic struggle and Vermont’s growing drug problems. “With so much stress people resort to unhealthy alternatives like drug addiction, leading to more crime and violence in our society. This burdens not just families, but our schools, our government services, and our justice system.” he said.
Right now millions of people in Vermont and across the country struggle with poverty wages, lack of paid family and medical leave to care for their families, wage theft, misclassified as independent contractors, and dangerous working conditions.
Goals of the campaign include raising job standards by making the minimum wage a livable wage, establishing paid family and medical leave for all of Vermont’s working families, and strengthening existing law to prevent employers from misclassifying their employees as “independent contractors” to deny the protections they are entitled to by law. In the coming years, we believe Vermont can increasingly become a national leader for raising workplace standards.
Rights and Democracy (radvt.org) is grassroots organization in Vermont and New Hampshire dedicated to organizing everyday people to make their voices heard and win real change for their communities. Follow them on Twitter @RightsVT
We work with a range of strategic partners including the Voices For Vermont’s Children (voicesforvtkids.org), Vermont Interfaith Action (viavt.org), Vermont Workers’ Center (workerscenter.org), Vermont AFL-CIO, and the Main Street Alliance of Vermont (mainstreetalliance.org/vermont/) to raise job standards for workers and their families. We do this through door-to-door canvassing and public outreach, gathering support on initiatives to raise standards, collecting stories, and holding public forums and producing detailed policy reports with our partners.
Michelle Salvador, of Worcester (Chair, Rights & Democracy)
Rev. Earl Kooperkamp from Episcopal Good Shepherd Church, Barre (VT Interfaith Action)
Abdullah Sall of Burlington (worker testimony)
John Moran of Wardsboro (former legislator and co-chair of Working Vermonters Caucus)
Mari Cordes, RN of Lincoln (Vice-president of AFT Vermont)
Sen. Anthony Pollina (D/P - Washington Co)
Michelle Fay, Associate Director of Voices of Vermont’s Children