Action Alert:

Peace Economy Working Group: 2015 Work Plan

Mel King testifies at Budget for All hearing, Massachusetts Legislature, July 10, 2013

The work of the Peace Economy Working Group is in some ways unlike the other taskforces of Massachusetts Peace Action (MAPA) . Rather than a group of individual activists who plan and execute program work in the name of MAPA, the Peace Economy Task force is a group of activists who work in different coalition efforts, united by the fact that their work tends to be coalition building with groups that are primarily focused on social justice, economic justice, or climate justice efforts domestically and they work to bring the international anti-militarist focus to these efforts and to challenge the undemocratic underpinnings of the government which has so often led to foreign policies designed by and designed to serve corporate interests at the expense of important priorities of the public.

The Peace Economy Working Group unites those areas of work in which MAPA joins with labor and community forces to u shift the focus of our economy from war, economic inequality, and climate catastrophe to a just, green, peace economy. By working with and establishing relationships with other forces objectively battling the same interests that have created and maintained the war economy, peace activists will help transform our society into one which can support a foreign policy in the interest of all. There are four coalition efforts in which we are engaged and which we try to coordinate through the Peace Economy Committee.

Budget For All

Led by Massachusetts Peace Action, AFSC, Mass. Alliance of HUD Tenants, and AFGE Local 3258, Budget For All mounted an advisory ballot campaign in 2012  with 4  basic planks 1) shifting funds from the military to human needs, 20 ending tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy, 3) investing in community needs and 4) preserving the earned benefits such as social security and medicare.  Budget for All  passed in all 90 plus cities and towns where it was on the ballot by over 60%, even in cities and t  owns which voted for Romney for President.

The coalition which won ballot placement and has campaigned for winning the change in federal priorities has staged a number of educational actions during the budget crises of the past few years,  conducted a hearing in the state legislature in support of an advisory resolution. and increasingly supported the Congressional Progressive Caucus Budgets which have generally reflected all of the values enumerated in Budget for all Initiative. The coalition sponsored a successful, broad Tax Day action  Mid Apil 2014. The State bill is still pending in informal session but unlikely to pass.

In 2015 the Budget for All Coalition will continue educating the broad public with jointly sponsored forums linking the underfunded needs of our communities with bloated military budgets,  and demands that the wealthy  pay their share.  We plan to hold a budget forum on February 22, 2015 and a Tax Day Protest Rally and Forum on April 11, 2015.

We will conduct joint coalition congressional visits on the need to change budget priorities, we will organize education about and support for the Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget for 2015 beginning when the new congress convenes and increasingly in March when the budgetary discussions typically begin, We will hold a Tax Day action mid April,  we will encourage engagement in the congressional budget debate around items aligned with the four points of our Budget for All proposal, we will do our part to encourage the development of a national campaign agenda for the alternative budget.  The US Social Forum, if it meets in Philadelphia in summer 2015, will afford one such opportunity for organizing.

Climate Justice and Green Economy

The people’s climate march on Sept. 21, the largest climate justice mobilization in human history, demonstrated a widespread, growing awareness that war/peace issues, climate change, and social and economic justice are all connected.   The task ahead for us all is to build a movement based on that awareness—finding. expressing, and acting on  common threads.

At forums and conversations, both formal and informal, we will emphasize the need to keep U.S. foreign and military policy in the mix of change needed as we help maximize the potential for groups to build a movement together while each group continues to work on its particular issues. 

With others, we are working on both national and state legislative initiatives, including possible carbon tax legislation for Massachusetts.  While state legislation needs to be filed by the end of January, it can serve as a placeholder as we work with legislators to craft language and garner to support.  On the state and national level, we can raise awareness and garner support for initiatives like the progressive caucus budget.

Economic justice issues, which are central to the climate and peace movements,  can be an important tool for organizing.   We will take part in forums and events around what a just, green, peaceful Massachusetts economy could look like, with an eye to its national implications. 

We will, as committee members, take part in the work of groups with whom we want to collaborate.   We will meet periodically (quarterly?) to share information and plan future action.

Raise Up Massachusetts

MAPA is proud of our work with the RaiseUp coalition, which won an increase in the minimum wage to $11 through legislation in June 2014 and gave 1 million Massachusetts workers the right to earned sick time at in a binding referendum question in November.  We look forward to continuing to support RaiseUp’s agenda as it develops in 2015 and beyond

Global Justice and Trade Justice

We will work with Jobs with Justice, MoveOn, labor, environmental, and other groups to monitor and oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership, Trans-Atlantic Free Trade and Investment Agreement, and the Fast Track legislation needed to pass either.  We will support just trade policies and democratic input into trade policy.