Thursday, October 6, 2011

Announcing a Film Series and Social Forum - The Power of Working People

I've had the pleasure of working with a group of people from Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor that came together in response to the actions and planned actions of Governor Synder and the Michigan legislature against - what a promising, albeit nascent, movement is now calling - the 99%. And while our work continues to concern state legislation that attacks workers, the unemployed and students, we recognize that effectiveness of our efforts is dependent on our awareness of the depth and extent of the crisis and the persons and groups it affects.

The group is the Washtenaw Community Action Team (affectionately known as the "Double-U CAT").

We are students, unionists, lecturers, teachers, nurses, pensioners, youth, social and economic justice advocates, Michiganders, community members, and so on. We planned the Stand Against Snyder Demonstration that took place at last year's UM commencement and turned out 2,000 people from all over the state; we supported the effort to repeal the emergency financial manager law by hosting town hall meetings and organizing petition drives; we stand in solidarity with the nurse's union and the graduate students trying to unionize as research assistants -- among other things.

The WCAT is hosting a film series at several locations in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor during the months of October and November that will lead up to a social forum on Tuesday, November 15th. The series is called The Power of Working People and the social forum is on Rebuilding Working People's Power.

The idea behind the film series and social forum is to place the 2008 economic crisis and the legislation and attitudes it has precipitated in the context of the history of labor and its relationship to political power. The goal through the screenings and discussions is not only to understand the power of working people, but also to start the process to restore it.

The two films that will play are 1979 Academy Award nominated With Babies and Banners: The Story of the Women's Emergency Bridge and 2010 Academy Award winner for Best Documentary Inside Job.

With Babies and Banners tells the story of the Flint Sit-Down Strike of 1936-7 and the story of the formation of the Women's Emergency Brigade by 23 year old Genora Johnson Dollinger.

Inside Job explores the consequences the collusion of big business and government had on financial policy and practices in the United States leading up to the collapse of the U.S. financial institutions in 2008 and the subsequent $700 billion bailout. Three years later we continue to reel from the fallout of the 2008 collapse and decisions made thereafter.

The social forum -- taking place Tuesday, November 15th @ 7pm -- will pick up where the films left off by exploring how the political class and big business have exploited the economic crisis to push anti-worker policies at all levels of government.

Featured panelists include: Jane Slaughter (LaborNotes, Labor Journalist & Activist); Maureen Taylor (Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, 2010 US Social Forum organizer); Tom Weisskopf (Professor of Economics - University of Michigan)

The forum will also feature reports from social justice and community organizations, union leaders and students -- providing the opportunity for us to learn from each other's struggles and a chance to work together.

For more information about WCAT and times and dates of screenings visit our website You can also RSVP for events on facebook .

You can also join our meetings 7pm, Thursdays @ 330 E. Liberty St. (Floor 3).

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