Austin Interfaith Celebrates Progress on Living Wages

“A diverse mix of Labor Union representatives, city and county elected officials, faith-based organizations and advocates for fair wages and working conditions came to the Workers Defense Project office Tuesday night…to celebrate a move by the county regarding tax incentives, a move many are hoping the city of Austin will follow.

“We really feel a company that’s not willing to pay $11 an hour isn’t a very good candidate for an incentive…” said  Bob Batlan with Austin Interfaith.”

A Celebration of a Change in Tax Incentives in Travis County, KVUE News

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Austin Interfaith Leaders Celebrate Living Wage Proposal

Leaders celebrated the 3-1 passage of a living wage proposal by the City of Austin’s special committee on economic incentives.  In partnership with member institutions Workers Defense Project and the Laborers International Union of North America, ”one-hundred construction workers and their allies were at city hall for the meeting, marching for something they’ve asked for time and again—a living wage….Austin Interfaith’s Jim O’Quinn says that’s why [Austin Interfaith] backs a push for standards companies must meet before they can get tax breaks from the city.”  The measure, which will come before the city council in upcoming months, needs four votes to pass.

[Photo Credit: Jay Janner, Austin American Statesman]

Living Wage at Heart of Overhaul to City Incentive ProgramYNN Austin

Travis County to Require $11 Hourly Wage for All Incentive Deals; Austin Weighs Similar RequirementAustin American Statesman

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Travis Heights In-District Charter Proposal Moves Forward

“Travis Heights is looking to partner with Education Austin and Austin Interfaith to start an in-district charter model allowing the school to have more autonomy. The school would focus on curriculum with its dual-language program, service learning model and a piloted blended learning program that incorporates digital media, Carstarphen said.  “They’re not asking for more money; they’re asking for more flexibility….”

AISD Board Discusses Potential Academic, Facilities Recommendations, Community Impact Newspaper

New In-District Charter Would Need Teacher, Community OK, Austin American Statesman

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AI Northeast Neighborhoods Block Liquor Sales Near Reagan High School

When the owner of a local liquor store petitioned to be allowed to sell alcohol 50 feet near Reagan High School, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Austin Interfaith leader Oralia Garza de Cortes responded quickly.  Within days she contacted members of her congregation and Northeast Austin neighborhood associations to inform them of the proposed variance and mobilized local troops to fight the proposal.  In coordination with eight neighborhood associations of Northeast Austin, grandmothers, teachers, pastors and other concerned citizens quickly rallied and succeeded in getting the proposal pulled before Thursday’s vote. 

Follow the Props and the Money, Austin Chronicle

Protesters Stop Beer Sales Near Reagan High, YNN News

Group Protests Sales of Alcohol at Store Near Reagan High School, FOX News

Neighborhood Protests Sale of Alcohol Near Reagan High, KVUE News

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South Cluster Leaders Block Liquor Sales by Travis High School

When leaders from Austin Interfaith’s Southside Cluster Wildflower Church, Kurt Cadena-Mitchell and Edie Clark, learned that Speedy Stop had applied for a variance to sell alcohol at the Exxon Station directly across the street from Travis High School, and next door to Wildflower, they quickly began organizing to oppose the variance, forming a coalition that included Wildflower Church, Travis Heights Elementary, Faith Presbyterian Church, Faith Child Development Center, South River City Citizens, and Texans Standing Tall.

The coalition developed a strategy to block sales that included research, meetings with decisionmakers and preparing to testify at Council. In meetings with Council members and an AISD Trustee, they were able to provide them with accurate information about the issue.  In the end, the attorney for Speedy Stop withdrew the application for the alcohol variance, citing community opposition.  Leaders heard from Council members that unless there is organized opposition, these types of variances are often approved. Southside leaders shared their winning strategy with a Northeast coalition of neighborhood associations organized by Austin Interfaith leader Oralia Garza to aid them in successfully defeating a similar alcohol variance across from Reagan High School.   
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Austin Interfaith Increases Voter Turnout in Traditionally Low Voting Precincts by 85% and 131%: East Austin & Dove Springs

As of Saturday evening, Austin Interfaith increased early voter turnout by 65%, and final voter turnout by 85%, in the same precinct in which it hosted the largest event of the election season as well as substantial GOTV efforts by several Austin Interfaith congregations

On April 29th, Austin Interfaith held the largest assembly in the city with 500+ organization members at Mount Olive Baptist Church; the church is located in Precinct 124 in East Austin.  Early voter turnout increased by 65% compared to 2011 council election turnout and by 9:30pm Saturday night had recorded an 85% increase over final election day turnout from 2011.   These increases in raw numbers of voters were the result of coordinated efforts by Austin Interfaith member congregations in East Austin.   Efforts included pulpit announcements to vote in several eastside congregations, GOTV walks held by 24 leaders over two weekends and phone banking involving a team of 9 additional leaders from downtown congregations

Austin Interfaith leaders increased voter turnout in Dove Springs' precinct 450 by 131% compared to 2011 council election turnout. This southeast Austin precinct is known as a low voter turnout neighborhood, but over 100 Austin Interfaith leaders participated in several neighborhood Get Out the Vote walks in 2012, including two during early voting season. On Saturday, May 5th over 25 leaders of Austin Interfaith walked door-to-door in Dove Springs and got signatures from 127 voters who supported the Austin Interfaith agenda, and committed to vote. In addition to door-to-door walks, leaders called over 2,000 voters in south Austin. Leaders continued to block-walk on election day, as well as phone bank and drive voters to the polls.
 
The voter turnout in these precincts are in addition to the citywide Get Out the Vote Campaign focused on our neighborhoods and institutions. Austin Interfaith is a non-partisan organization of member congregations, schools, workers' associations and non-profits building power through the organization of a voting constituency in support of an array of issues around the interests of families and individuals in Austin.
 
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Austin Interfaith Leverages Commitments on Incentive Deals & Electricity

At an assembly with 504 Austin Interfaith delegates, candidates for City Council and Mayor committed to raising electricity rates no higher than 20% for congregations and to broaden assistance to people with limited incomes.

Candidates were also challenged about publicly funded incentives, as Austin has been the center of high-profile incentive deals in recent years.  Austin Interfaith got all candidates to commit to setting a wage standard for permanent (and construction) workers ranging between $11-20 per hour. Candidates also agreed to a community study and dialogue with Austin Interfaith to determine what constitutes a living wage in Austin.

Candidates for Sheriff and US Congress also committed to working with the organization.

Early Voting Begins in Municipal RacesKXAN

 

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Austin Interfaith Fights Energy Rate Hike on Churches & Poor

 

“Church leaders are banding together to fight a proposed Austin Energy rate increase that they say will hurt their ability to help the poor in the community.

Thursday morning, Austin Interfaith gathered and spoke during public comments to let the city council know they oppose the increase.  ‘This could affect the community of faith’s ability to do the ministries they need to do,’ said Pastor Fred Krebs of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in East Austin.”

Austin Churches Unite to Oppose Energy Rate HikeKVUE News

Austin Interfaith StatementsAustin Channel 6 [Citizen Communication Start at 0:30 & 20:25; Also at Item 107, Part 3 at 33:46]

Be Heard Today on Electricity Rate IncreaseKUT

 

 

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Austin Interfaith Fights for Higher Wages in City Subsidy Deal

Leaders piled into City Hall to ask City council members to raise the minimum workers would be paid.  Says Garcia,”When we’re using public funds we’ve got to bring in jobs where families can at least afford to eat.”

Controversy Surrounds New Jobs Coming to AustinKVUE-ABC

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Austin Interfaith Victorious on Funding for Job Training

October 6, 2011

On the morning of October 6th, Austin City Council passed the Public Health and Human Service budget and two other items that moved additional funding to Capital Idea, keeping the program at 2011 level funding ($1.08 million) for FY 2012. Over the last year leaders attended public hearings and council meetings to challenge the City's no-lobbying ordinance and eventually met face-to-face meetings with council members to secure this funding as well as the expansion of funding for other programs.

This past month Travis County Commissioners Court voted not only for the continuation of level funding ($700,000) for Capital Idea it also added another $97,000 to help supplement cuts from the state.

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