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Good Jobs= Great Houston in the News
Hot sunny weather, hard pavements, and achy feet did nothing to stop 600 Texans from marching in Austin to tell Rick Perry, “We’re not going under!” and despite the grim business of having to be around Governor Perry, the mood of the rally Texans was strong, jubilant, and exciting. Over 4 full buses, and 3 vans from the Houston and Pasadena area joined hundreds of other Texans from Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin for the “Under the Bus” Rally.
In a peaceful demonstration of democracy these Texans, young, old, able bodied and disabled, entered the Texas Capitol in Austin where signs declaring “Keep your hand off my Medicaid!” and “Perry: 2 Million People Get Insured! How can you say No?!”, and filled the high, marble walls with their voices in song and chants.
Even capital tourists, who were unaware of Perry’s actions, joined in in support and signed a petition, filed along with the over 4,000 people after hearing what we had to say. After demanding to have an audience with Rick Perry, to present their case, the protesters were informed that Rick Perry had left early and was at the AT&T Conference Building to give a speech to the The Texas Tribune convention.
A mile long march took place to meet up with Perry, stopping briefly to listen soulful, passionate music and to get to know fellow Texans from other cities. Passers-by, clapped, yelled, and honked in support as the march proceeded. At the arrival to the Texas Tribune convention, protesters began to sing parodying nursery rhymes and even, “Deep in the Heart of Texas”.
Despite the hundreds that marched to his door and then again to the convention, Rick Perry refused to meet anyone who would be affected by the decision that day.
The events leading up to the rally in the Texas Capitol began when Perry declared last July that he was willing to leave over 2 million Texans without health insurance. A decision stunning to the already 6 million Texans who are without any insurance at all and to the dismay of the medical community, as this decision would cost virtually nothing to the state and not accepting it does nothing to alleviate Texas from being in last place in health care coverage with an average of 1 in 4 Texans struggling with a decision to buy medicine, bills, or food, the majority being the working class.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 30, 2012
HUNDREDS OF HOUSTONIANS JOIN NATIONWIDE CALL TO REJECT ROMNEY ECONOMY
Voters Demand an Economy That Works for the 99%, With Rally at the Harris County GOP Office “We don’t want a Romney Economy!”
HOUSTON, TX – A diverse group of Houstonians joined a protest against a Romney Economy on Thursday, as the former governor accepted the GOP nomination. Across the country, the 99% – low wage workers, seniors, community activists, students, and faith leaders – roundly rejected the 1%-focused Romney Economy in favor of an economy that works for all of us.
Protesters assembled at the Harris County GOP office by the dozens, toting signs and chanting loudly with a clear message for Mitt Romney: don’t privatize healthcare, stop outsourcing jobs, stop tax breaks for the rich coupled with take hikes for the middle class, and stop cuts to education and healthcare funding. Half the group then went inside the lobby and upstairs to the GOP Office chanting. The other group assembled outside along the front of the building getting support from passersby. After about an hour of chanting, community people began speaking out about the reasons they do not support a Romney Economy.
“A Romney Economy won’t work for me because my grandmother needs access to healthcare. I know there are 1.2 million Texans that want a system where everyone has access to health care not just the rich.” said Chandler Godine, an out of work Texan who recently returned home from the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL.
Texas is home to millions of workers, who must struggle to provide for their families while the rich enjoy tax breaks and loopholes. Parents who have to make the heartbreaking choice between buying groceries or taking a sick child to the doctor know that a Romney Economy will not work for Houston.
Nationwide, members of the 99% rejected a Romney Economy, welcoming home protesters from the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. These voters want: an increase to the federal minimum wage, an end to tax breaks for the rich and corporations, a renewed focus on creating good American jobs instead of layoffs and outsourcing for profit, and a Congress committed to representing all Americans, not just the 1%.
MEDIA ADVISORY – August 30, 2012
CONTACT: Ar’Sheill Sinclair, 832.736.1572, arsheill.@goodjobshouston.org
HOUSTONIANS TO REJECT ROMNEY ECONOMY AT Harris County GOP Office
Voters to Demand an Economy That Works for the 99%, End to Outsourcing, Healthcare Cuts and Corporate Tax Breaks
Houston, TX– On Thursday morning, as Mitt Romney accepts the Republican party’s presidential nomination, the 99% – low wage workers, seniors, community activists, students, and faith leaders – will roundly reject the Romney Economy. Among the participants will be workers who have just returned from protesting the Romney Economy at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
As part of a nationwide movement rejecting “Mr. 1%,” workers will speak out against the elements of the Romney Economy that are dangerous to the working and middle class: outsourcing, tax breaks for the rich coupled with take hikes for the middle class, cuts to education and healthcare funding.
WHAT: Rally at the GOP Office. We Don’t Want A Romney Economy
WHERE: 3311 Richmond Avenue
WHEN: August 30th 10:30am
WHO: Community members who do not support a Romney Economy
This event is part of a nationwide day of action, as voters demand an economy and a government that work for the 99%. These voters want: an increase to the federal minimum wage, an end to tax breaks for the rich and corporations, a renewed focus on creating good American jobs instead of layoffs and outsourcing for profit, and a Congress committed to representing all Americans, not just the 1%.
All of your great support is helping us spread awareness about our fight for a livable wage. We’ve been lending our support to the Local 1 janitors who are fighting for a raise of $10 per hour. Day by day we’re gaining tons of support from different coalitions across the city and state. We even received remarks from VP Joe Biden when he came to Houston for the NAACP Convention. We’re getting stronger and making our voices heard!
Check out this article in the Texas Tribune. The pictures really speak a thousand words.
Yesterday, we over here at Good Jobs=Great Houston, hopped on 45 N to Dallas to meet with the 1% Prince, Mitt Romney as he fundraised. He kicked off his Texas fundraiser tour last night over at the ritzy Fairmont Hotel in Downtown Dallas. Arriving around 445 pm, we happy to see a crowd already slowly gathering in front of the hotel. Folks from Occupy Dallas and Moveon.org were busy setting up their video cameras and trying to gain support of drivers getting ready for their evening rush hour commute.
Romney, planning to hold a very private event for top paying 1%er’s had no idea that the working/taxpaying 99%, who couldn’t afford even the cheapest ticket ($2,500), felt it was time he met with the folks standing up for the 99%! Especially when on the same day he was joking about his good ol’ Dad destroying factory jobs. Showing us how out of touch he really is ( paying only a 13.9% Federal tax rate might have a helping hand with that).
“One of most humorous I think relates to my father. You may remember my father, George Romney, was president of an automobile company called American Motors… They had a factory in Michigan, and they had a factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and another one in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And as the president of the company he decided to close the factory in Michigan and move all the production to Wisconsin. Now later he decided to run for governor of Michigan and so you can imagine that having closed the factory and moved all the production to Wisconsin was a very sensitive issue to him, for his campaign…Every time they would start playing ‘On Wisconsin, On Wisconsin,’ my dad’s political people would jump up and down and try to get them to stop, because they didn’t want people in Michigan to be reminded that my dad had moved production to Wisconsin.”
This is humor? Joking about job loss is humor? Maybe to the 1%, but NOT us!!
Marching two blocks down to the Fairmont, a wave of protestors representing the 99% and our favorite 1%er, Mr. Gree D. Bastard making an appearance, came ready to roll out the red carpet. As we joined with Dallas natives, Houstonians representing the 99% laid out on the street as the red carpet was rolled over them. The 1% had to walk over them somehow, so why not in style that their used to?
Singing songs like, “We Love Romney,” set to the old hymnal tune of “Jesus Loves Me,” and chanting loud enough for the 1%. We were able to let the Prince know that we want him to pay his fair share of Federal Taxes and if he won’t come out to meet with us, the 99%, we will go meet him!
Saying our goodbyes to our Dallas brothers and sisters. We packed our bags and hit the road to San Antonio for Romney’s second stop on his tour. More to this story later on…
Day 2: On the Royal Tour with the 1% Prince, Mitt Romney
Al Neal, Member TNG-CWA Local 39521
It was a mid-morning surprise for the 1% prince, as his Royal tour made its second stop in San Antonio. While Prince Romney prepared to cozy up with his fellow 1%er’s and their needs, We, Good Job=Great Houston, pulled up in front of the Pearl Brewery, a private and semi-secluded restaurant. We piled out of the van to meet up with a growing group of San Antonian activists. With the help and coordination of Moveon.org in San Antonio, this special 99% reception was ready to kick off its welcome.
DREAM Act activists, occupiers, and union members from all over the Greater San Antonio area came out that day and got the chanting started as we prepared to roll out the red carpet with suit jackets and top hats back on. Our own brand of 1%ers started walking and dancing over members of the 99% under the carpet. As the real 1% made its way to the private reception you could hear folks chant, “Walk on the Carpet!”
The news media in attendance was not expecting such an outpouring of protest from the 99% and were able to get great live coverage. The prince never came out to meet with us outside as he had to be in Houston that same afternoon to receive President George H.W. Bush at his office.
We said out goodbyes to San Antonio and hit the road back to Houston where the fun was about to begin.
Pulling up to the West Houston office of President Bush, we were greeted by a row of news vans, secret service and HPD. We pulled off to the side, unloaded our vans and joined the rest of the Good Jobs=Great Houston crowd to begin a march down the sidewalk to deliver our message. With the rain pouring down on us, we once again rolled out the red carpet for Bush and Prince Romney, as the 99% Picket march circled around the red carpet.
“We are the 99%!”
“Hey you millionaire, pay your taxes!”
Those chants were heard loud and clear through the rain as the Princes’ caravan drove right past us. As they entered the building and began their meeting we had to jump up and head out to the Royal Tour’s last stop at the St. Regis Hotel. We marched away letting everyone know that, “We would be BACK!”
St Regis Hotel, conveniently located across the street from HOPE Local 123′s office was the last and final stop of the Royal Tour. Marching down with drums keeping a steady beat, we made our way two by two to the front end of the hotel. With cheers and jeers from drivers passing by on their way home we loudly delivered our message to the crowd of 1% onlookers across the way from us inside the hotel. With an intersection dividing the sidewalk into two corners, we split and made sure we could be heard from both sides. As one side chanted loudly, the other side would try going even louder. It became a back and forth that sounded like:
“We pay taxes, yes we do! We pay taxes how bout’ you!”
We had just gotten it as loud as our voices could possibly go when the Princes’ tour caravan was seen pulling into a side entrance-trying to avoid the 99% at all costs. We shuffled further down the sidewalk to make sure Romney was able to hear us loud and clear. As we began marching goodbye, “we’ll be back” was heard down the line until the last activist crossed the street back to the HOPE office. The royal tour was at its end…. But, that doesn’t mean this story is over. Tax day is right around the corner!
Also, check out all the great media coverage of all the stops where Good Jobs=Great Houston was at:
At first, El Paso scheduled their shareholders’ meeting for Tuesday, March 6. Then they got the word that there were going to be protesters there, so in a surprise move unprecedented in corporate American culture they got scared and moved their shareholders’ meeting to Friday, March 9.
But they didn’t deter the protesters from rallying 100 strong outside. And they certainly didn’t expect the protesters to also be shareholders on the inside.
We had roving “mic checks” with groups of 4 apiece, talking about a different issue relating to El Paso’s greed. One mic check referred to the proposed Kinder Morgan acquisition that we wrote about here. One mic check talked about El Paso’s tax dodging habits, netting them a $41 million federal income tax refund on $4.1 billion in profits since 2008. Another mic check mentioned that the $41 million El Paso got back in refunds could offset HISD’s expected budget cut of $41 million for the following year. Our people on the inside made up over half of the total crowd at the shareholders’ meeting.
There were over 100 people rallying outside of El Paso’s HQ, who had marched that morning from City Hall. There was plenty of visual spectacle– pig suits, Doug Foshee puppets, drumming, and plenty of great chants like:
WE’RE NOT BROKE / THAT’S A FACT / FUND OUR SCHOOLS / WITH CORPORATE TAX
HOW TO END THE DEFICIT / TAX EL PASO AND THE RICH
EL PASO’S TAX RATE IS A JOKE / PAY YOUR TAXES, WE’RE NOT BROKE
41 MILLION DOLLARS / TAX REFUNDS THAT MAKE ME HOLLER
YOUR TAX REFUND IS TOO BIG / TAX THE GREEDY CORPORATE PIGS
HEY EL PASO, READ OUR SIGNS / SCHOOLS AND JOBS ARE ON THE LINE
TAX DODGING IS THE WORST / FUNDING SCHOOLS / SHOULD COME FIRST
It was a great end to a week full of action against corporate tax dodgers, particularly against El Paso. Check out the pictures below, and be on the lookout for video of the inside coming soon! We even got mentioned nationally in Reuters, and locally in the Houston Business Journal!
CERA Week 2012, at the Hilton of the Americas in downtown Houston, is a gathering of executives from big oil and gas giants– many of them Houston-based. Some of these same executives are paid more than their own company pays the federal government in taxes.
General Electric, for example, paid a -45% federal income tax rate on their profits since 2008. ExxonMobil paid a o.4% federal income tax rate on $9.9 billion in profits over the last two years. I’m sure company executives would counter that they pay all federal taxes required by law. That’s easy to say, since GE alone spent $84 million on Washington lobbyists in the last 3 years. El Paso Energy, headquartered in Houston, spent almost $3 million on lobbyists while paying a -1% federal tax rate. Centerpoint, another Houston-based utility company, paid an effective federal tax rate of -14.7% on $1.9 billion in profits since 2008. While Centerpoint got $284 million back from the government instead of paying taxes, they paid their lobbyists $2.7 million.
While these huge corporations are posting record profits and making off like bandits, we the taxpayers are rapidly losing the public services we pay for and depend upon. One good example is HISD’s expected budget cut of $41 million next year. $41 million is also the exact am0unt of El Paso’s federal income tax refund since 2008. While we’re all seeing jobs evaporate and infrastructure crumble, the world’s largest and richest corporations have never fared better. Today, approximately 200 Houstonians decided to speak out against that.
It started with a rolling out of the red carpet just outside of the conference room, and a crowd of about 30 chanting “PAY YOUR TAXES!” The police quickly escorted us out, and told us we’d be arrested if we tried to go back inside. We regrouped at Discovery Green just outside the hotel, and marched on the conference, rallying outside of the Hilton 200 strong. There were members of Occupy Houston, Mi Familia Vota, Texas Organizing Project, Hope, Local 1, and Good Jobs=Great Houston all marching together. We even brought Miss Mae, our corporate pig, and some of her friends clad in pink corporate pig suits. While we were eventually chased off of the property, we chanted “WE’LL BE BACK!” as we marched away. Check out the pictures, and check out our press coverage!
We had the eyes and ears of Houston yesterday.
Our “Hog Wild” Corporate tax dodger march drew around 200 people from multiple organizations– HOPE Local 1, Texas Organizing Project, Houston Interfaith Workers’ Justice, Occupy Houston– to protest corporations that don’t pay their fair share of taxes. We even brought a live pig to Louisana Street, right in front of Centerpoint Energy, El Paso Energy, and Wells Fargo; billion-dollar corporations that all paid negative federal income tax rates over a 3-year period. The Houston Chronicle photographed us and our pig! Check these pictures out, and share them with your friends!
Because of your efforts and dedication, we’re getting our message out to more people every day. View more pictures of the action here.
Thanks for everything you do!
Happy new year, everyone! How about this for starting off the new year right?
23 Dec, 2011
After witnessing the effects of so many budget cuts, like seeing their children put in larger classrooms and shortchanged on supplies and textbooks, parents of children in Texas public school districts got more than a little miffed when they saw that a highly profitable oil giant like Valero was scheming for a huge tax break that would take even more money from schools. One of those parents, Patricia Gonzalez, talked to Al Sharpton on MSNBC’s Politics Nation this Fall about how that tax break would affect her child’s education. And Good Jobs=Great Houston even took activists to Austin to directly voice their concerns to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, during their November hearing on the issue.
Thanks to all the pressure we’ve put on the TCEQ and our public outcry in the media, the TCEQ has denied the tax break to Valero! This is a big win for us as we go into 2012. Share this around and spread the word– public pressure and demonstrations can and DO work!
he rain came down relentlessly, stinging us in the side of our faces by the occasional gust of wind, almost blowing the cowboy hat from my head several times. We had been marching on sidewalks through the K Street district, watching the passersby film us on their phones, some of them holding up solidarity fists as we marched past. The pouring rain and cold weather didn’t damper our protest, but rather solidified our resolve, as we came together at the corner of K and 14th streets, hugging each other in our ponchos and raincoats, holding signs, chanting as we walked forward with purpose.
Some started to chant, “Out of the sidewalks! Into the streets!” Protesters marched from the sidewalk to the road, walking in between cars stopped in traffic. Even the parade marshals in fluorescent orange vests started signaling us to leave the sidewalks. As my feet hit the asphalt, I watched as hundreds of protesters around me spill into the streets.
Up ahead, I saw another contingent of protesters standing in another major intersection, and saw a crowd of hundreds behind them. I looked over my shoulder, and saw a sea of people marching behind me. It hit all of us at once that we had just shut down 4 blocks of K Street in the middle of the day. The entire crowd, at least 2,000 strong, erupted into cheers. Caught in the moment, I mic checked “The Greatest Speech Ever Written” from Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator to the crowd, with the help of three activists on bullhorns. By the time I was done reading the speech, the rain had completely soaked and ruined my paper. I tore it up and screamed the last line with what remained of my hoarse voice,
“Soldiers! In the name of Democracy, let us all unite!”
On December 7, four blocks of K Street were shut down by a united front of people from dozens of cities, from dozens of states. There were unemployed workers, underemployed college students squeezed by student loan debt, folks who identified with the Occupy movement, and members of labor unions. All of them were together in one spot, united in one cause. The sound of the people in the streets drowned out the sound of the wailing police sirens. In that moment, we were unstoppable.
Just as international financiers’ corruption of capitalism inspired the birth of Occupy Wall Street, corporate special interests’ corruption of our government inspired the occupation of K Street. Both included a deeply diverse base of participants from all walks of life. Both took place in the beating heart of each respective industry. Both should be seen as equally historic and iconic moments in the fight to restore fairness to our economic and political systems.
The fact that money talks louder than actual speech in Congress is no secret— opensecrets.org provides details on how much each respective industry contributed to the campaigns of elected officials in their database. And its no secret that lots of corporations paid more to lobby Congress than they paid the federal government in taxes. Verizon, for example, paid $0 in federal taxes for 2 years, got $951 million back as a tax refund, yet spent $52 million lobbying Congress for more tax loopholes. Bill McKibben of the Tar Sands Action movement recently tweeted, “the 234 members of Congress who voted to revive Keystone (XL) have collected $42 million from dirty energy companies. That’s gross.”
Our march on K Street got the attention of millions through national media coverage- check out the links below for details, pictures and video of our historic action, and share it with your friends!
8 Dec, 2011
8 Dec, 2011
8 Dec, 2011