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20 posts categorized "Economy"

October 24, 2011

Top Economists to Advise Sanders on Federal Reserve Reforms

Sanders-BernankeWhat do a Nobel Prize-winning economist and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have in common?

They both want to reform the Federal Reserve.

Joseph Stiglitz, the 2001 winner of the Nobel Prize in economics and an economics professor at Columbia University, is one of nearly 20 of the nation's leading progressive economists and economic analysts who have agreed to advise Sanders on legislation designed to bring a major overhaul to the nation's central bank.

Other prominent names on this special advisory panel include: Robert Reich, secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton; economist James K. Galbraith; Jeffrey Sachs, a special adviser to United National Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; and author William Greider, among others.

Sanders announced the panel last week, on the heels of a second critical report of the Fed issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office and as "Occupy Wall Street" protests began to spread across the nation.

Continue reading "Top Economists to Advise Sanders on Federal Reserve Reforms" »

October 17, 2011

Two Days, Two Rallies Bring Hundreds to "Occupy" Burlington (VIDEO)

IMG_3012Vermont's Occupy Wall Street solidarity movement saw some of its biggest rallies yet this past weekend, and its first steps toward harnessing the energy from these protests into more concrete action.

On Saturday, roughly 500 people filled City Hall Park and then marched up Church Street before heading up the hill to Fletcher Allen Health Care and the University of Vermont. There, protesters called for fair contracts for staff at the two institutions.

Contract talks between the administration and all three of UVM's unions are at an impasse, while nurses are already engaged in tough negotiations for a new contract.

On Sunday, fewer than 200 protesters gathered in City Hall Park for the first "general assembly" after four consecutive weeks of protests and speakouts.

Continue reading "Two Days, Two Rallies Bring Hundreds to "Occupy" Burlington (VIDEO)" »

October 09, 2011

Hundreds of Protesters "Occupy Burlington" During Downtown Rally (VIDEO)

IMG_3040 More than 350 people marched through downtown Burlington on Sunday afternoon in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City — the third such rally in as many weeks.

With a street band leading the procession, the throng marched from City Hall Park up Church Street to the fountain at the top block, turned around, and marched down the street again as shoppers and diners looked on — some smiling, some seemingly dumbfounded and some applauding.

Marchers chanted, "All day, all week, occupy Wall Street" (see video below) as they marched first through the alleyway onto Church Street and along the narrow street passage between the outdoor patios at Sweetwaters and Ri Ra.

As with last week, protest messages and demands ran the gamut and the political spectrum. The multi-generational crowd's demands were as varied as its attendees: End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, support unionized workers at Fletcher Allen Health Care and the University of Vermont, end the corporate influence on the electoral system, end the "corporatization" at UVM, support migrant farm workers, end the Federal Reserve, and the list went on.

Continue reading "Hundreds of Protesters "Occupy Burlington" During Downtown Rally (VIDEO)" »

October 07, 2011

A Vermonter on Wall Street: 'I Knew This Is Where I Had to Be'

IMG_0799 NEW YORK — Despite the looming skyscrapers and the fidgety cops, many Vermonters might feel right at home in Liberty Plaza, the epicenter of the Occupy Wall Street uprising.

Ian Williams and TC Kida (pictured at right) certainly find the scene congenial. When not marching on Lower Manhattan's citadels of capitalism, the two Vermonters have been spending the past few days talking politics and lifestyle philosophies with some of the hundreds of young agitators congregated in this roughly one-acre space surrounded by banks, drug stores, electronics outlets and fast-food joints.

Williams, a McGill University graduate from Enosburg Falls, arrived here after taking part in a protest in Boston last weekend against Bank of America. “Something just awakened in me,” the bearded 26-year-old said, explaining that he quit his temp job in a Williston warehouse because “I knew this is where I had to be.”

Continue reading "A Vermonter on Wall Street: 'I Knew This Is Where I Had to Be'" »

October 03, 2011

Occupy Wall Street? No! Occupy St. Paul Street!

IMG_2994 A group of nearly 150 people rallied in downtown Burlington Sunday in solidarity with the thousands of protesters who have been occupying Wall Street in New York City.

Chanting "we are the 99 percent," the crowd called for economic, labor and environmental justice. Like the rally in New York City, the Burlington gathering became a catch-all for venting frustration with government bailouts of banks and corporations while unemployment, and underemployment, hovers at 16 percent nationally.

"It is time for those of us in the 99 percent to organize and fight back," said Jonathan Leavitt, an event organizer.

The "99 percent" references everyone, economically, who is not among the country's wealthiest 1 percent. Various reports show that the concentration of wealth at the top 1 percent exceeds that of the bottom 95 percent combined.

Budget cuts as a result of the flagging economy is "something that touches all of us in the 99 percent," added Leavitt. "Conservatives on the city council here in Burlington — who are the majority on the council — are looking to make cuts at fire, police, library and the arts and our mayor, who is wholly incompetent, only serves to help them."

Continue reading "Occupy Wall Street? No! Occupy St. Paul Street!" »

September 21, 2011

Farm Workers File Racial Profiling Complaint With VT Human Rights Commission (Updated With Police Video)

 

The two undocumented farm workers turned over to the federal immigration authorities by the Vermont State Police last week have filed a racial profiling complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission, asserting that the state trooper's suspicion was based solely on the color of their skin.

Danilo Lopez (pictured in hat) and Antonio Meza-Sandoval, both from Mexico, were detained following a traffic stop on I-89 in Middlesex on September 13, when a car in which they were passengers was pulled over for going 88 mph. On Monday, they filed a formal complaint at the Human Rights Commission offices.

"We are hopeful that this process will confirm that what happened was discriminatory so that it won't happen again to anyone in Vermont," Lopez said in a statement. "We also hope that the State will take measures to improve its Bias-Free-Policing policy and clearly direct police to not discriminate based on suspected immigration status."

The complaint follows public release of the police video (above) from the cruiser that stopped the car the farm workers were riding in. After viewing the 35-minute video, Lopez said he "re-lived the officer's pressure. He focused immediately on us upon approaching the vehicle. He threatened me with one last chance to speak up 'or else,' even though I wanted to remain silent."

Also, state Rep. Kesha Ram (D-Burlington) is wading into the controversy, saying in a statement released by the Vermont Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project that, "Upon watching clips of the detention of Danilo and Antonio, I am deeply concerned as both a state legislator and a person of color. We cannot reasonably enforce broken federal immigration policies in our state that are disconnected from the reality of our agricultural needs and practices. This incident strengthens my resolve to end racial profiling in Vermont, and I look forward to working with Governor Shumlin to that end."

Continue reading "Farm Workers File Racial Profiling Complaint With VT Human Rights Commission (Updated With Police Video)" »

September 16, 2011

Shumlin Says VT Should "Look the Other Way" on Illegal Immigration, Republicans Pounce

Shumlin Gov. Peter Shumlin has added fuel to the fire over this week's bust of undocumented migrant farm workers by the Vermont State Police.

In an interview with WPTZ-TV's Stewart Ledbetter yesterday, Shumlin said Vermont should "look the other way" when it comes to dealing with immigrants working illegally on Vermont farms. "We have always had a policy in Vermont where we kind of look the other way as much as we can," Shumlin told WPTZ. "I just want to make sure that's what's we're doing. [Vermont farms] can't survive without workers from outside America. It's just the way it is. "

On Tuesday, two farm workers from Mexico — one of them an outspoken activist — were turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol after state police stopped a car in which they were passengers for speeding. Members of the Vermont Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project branded the incident "racial profiling" and formed a human chain to block the border patrol SUVs from driving off with the farm workers — leading to the arrest of three protesters. (Clip below, full video here).

Shumlin ordered an investigation of the incident on Tuesday to determine whether the traffic stop violated with the state police's "bias-free policing policy."

Not surprisingly, the Vermont Republican Party pounced on the gov's "look the other way" comment — after first explaining why Shumlin was partially correct.

Continue reading "Shumlin Says VT Should "Look the Other Way" on Illegal Immigration, Republicans Pounce" »

September 13, 2011

VIDEO: Migrant Farmworker Leader Detained; 3 Protesters Arrested; Gov. Shumlin Orders Investigation (Updated)

 

*Update and Clarification Below*

An immigration bust by Vermont State Police on Tuesday, and the subsequent arrest of protesters, is sending shock waves around the state.

Earlier today, two undocumented migrant farm workers — one of them an outspoken critic of a controversial immigration enforcement program — were detained by state police following a routine traffic stop on I-89 in Middlesex and handed over to the U.S. Border Patrol. Brendan O'Neill, an organizer with the VT Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project, said farm workers Danilo Lopez and Antonio Mesa (whose last name is unknown) were racially profiled by state police after a car they were passengers in was pulled over for speeding — a violation of the Vermont State Police's bias-free policing policy, O'Neill claims.

The situation escalated this afternoon, when activists from the Solidarity Project showed up at the Middlesex state police barracks to protest the farm workers' expected deportation. When the Border Patrol tried to leave with the handcuffed immigrants in SUVs, five of the protesters locked arms and blocked the government vehicle — provoking a standoff that ended with three of them being carted off and arrested. (See video above).

Later Tuesday, Gov. Peter Shumlin ordered an investigation into the traffic stop.

"The Governor is concerned by accounts of the incident and ordered an immediate internal investigation to determine the facts of what happened and if Vermont State Police bias-free policies were followed," a statement from the governor's office read. "In addition, he has instructed his legal counsel to lead a review of State Police policies relating to undocumented workers in the state with an eye toward ensuring bias-free policing conduct is observed in all settings."

Continue reading "VIDEO: Migrant Farmworker Leader Detained; 3 Protesters Arrested; Gov. Shumlin Orders Investigation (Updated)" »

September 01, 2011

UVM Employees and Allies Threaten "Takeover" If Labor Contract Isn't Settled

UVM A battle is brewing at the University of Vermont between administrators and unionized maintenance workers who say they're "pissed off" about the golden parachutes and salaries handed out to former President Dan Fogel and other university leaders.

At a rally outside the Waterman administration building Wednesday, the head of UVM's maintenance union told 100 supporters that, "The people in this community are pissed off too."

"The trustees have become morally bankrupt," said Carmyn Stanko, an electrician and president of United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) Local 267. "Giving out millions of dollars to Fogel and their friends while sticking it to the workers."

With talks stalled on a new three-year labor contract, some at the rally threatened that UVM students, faculty and staff would "take over" the Waterman building if they didn't get a fair contract, meaning stage a sit-in. The sides were scheduled to meet with a federal mediator today in hopes of breaking the impasse.

UVM is asking its lowest-paid workers to contribute more toward health insurance premiums and accept a salary increase that works out to 1 percent stretched over three years. Meanwhile, union leaders expressed outrage at the $600,000 and $500,000 severance packages afforded to Fogel and another top university official, and the combined $500,000 salaries paid the new dean of the business school and his professor wife.

"Is that the kind of university we want?" Stanko asked the crowd.

"Hell, no!" was the immediate response.

Continue reading "UVM Employees and Allies Threaten "Takeover" If Labor Contract Isn't Settled" »

August 26, 2011

Which Vermont Towns Had Highest (and Lowest) Unemployment?

Unemployment4 Think Vermonters have been insulated from the U.S. unemployment crisis? Think again.

Public Assets Institute, the data-savvy Montpelier think tank, is out with a cool new interactive map that charts Vermont's 2010 unemployment rates town by town. And the figures are sobering. 

While Vermont can boast a statewide unemployment rate of 6.2 percent (far below the national average of 9.1 percent), Vermonters in many towns — particularly in the Northeast Kingdom — remained out of work last year.

According to Vermont Department of Labor data collected by PAI, jobless rates for individual Vermont towns ranged from zero (in Averill) to 20.5 percent in the border town of Norton, population 214. All told, 23 Vermont towns had unemployment rates that averaged 10 percent or more last year.

Click here for the map. (Note: the image at right is not interactive. You'll have to go to PAI's site for that.)

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