Our Issue Campaigns
UVIP is currently focused to two issues,
Tropical Storm Irene Relief, and New Hampshire Legislative Action.
As we grow, the issues we work on will change. Over time, new issues
will arise from the process of building relationships and listening
to one another’s hopes and dreams for all in our region.
The Tropical Storm Irene Relief Team is focused on insuring justice
for those impacted by Tropical Storm Irene in August, 2011. An early
focus was getting JCPenney workers back to work. The current focus
is easing the burden of debts survivors accumulated in the aftermath
of the storm.
The New Hampshire Legislative Action Team has
been focused on opposing bad legislation at the New Hampshire legislature
in Concord over the past year. Of the 5 bills we opposed in 2012,
4 have NOT become law.
The Tropical Storm Irene Relief Team
JCPenney Campaign -- Storm-damaged store reopened, employees rehired.
After Tropical Storm Irene, the heavily-damaged West Lebanon JCPenney
store put all employees on unpaid leave of absence, but was very
slow to communicate their plans for the store – or the employees.
To support the JCPenney employees and relieve their uncertainty,
the JCPenney Issue Team was formed and worked with Deputy Commission
of Employment Security Daryll Gates to secure unemployment benefits
for JCPenney employees and convince JCPenney to relax their conflict
of interest policy which limited employees’ ability to apply for
temporary work elsewhere while the JCPenney store was closed. By
involving the UVIP faith communities and other community stakeholders,
over 400 letters were written and sent to JCPenney headquarters requesting
clear, consistent communication from JCPenney regarding the store
reopening and employee rehiring. Within a week, JCPenney
called an all-store employee meeting, announced the store reopening
date, and rehired all present employees.
UVIP Irene Relief Action – working toward financial justice for
those impacted by Tropical Storm Irene
While the flood waters receded long ago, the flood
of debt is still rising for Irene survivors. The UVIP Irene Team
hosted a Public Action Meeting in mid-September where over 100 people
gathered to share stories of Irene related debt and take next steps
to relieve mounting credit card bills and dwindling financial assets.
We announced the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund’s willingness to pay
outstanding contractor and vendor bills for Irene survivors, a critical
step in helping survivor individuals and families who went deeply
into debt to deal with damages. We updated those present of our developing
relationships with local banks and public officials to create financial
products that will help Irene survivors recover from their flood-related
debts. UVIP is proud to play a convening, catalyzing and organizing
role in helping those who are most vulnerable speak up for their
needs, and helping those who are responsible or are partners in addressing
those needs respond on a timely basis. We remain engaged
with the Vermont communities impacted by tropical storm Irene as
they seek to carve out a new future in 2013.
The New Hampshire Legislative Action Team
Based on community concerns and faith values the team actively opposed
five bills being considered by the New Hampshire Legislature during
2012. These bills would have eroded tenants rights, reduced affordable
housing, brought predatory high-interest lending back to NH, and
expanded casino gambling. UVIP leaders testified at hearings and
held prayer vigils outside important votes.
We connected closely and repeatedly with our local NH Representatives
and Senators. Through this effort we developed strong and enduring
working relationships with multiple organizations including the Granite
State Organizing Project, American Friends Service Committee, NH
Legal Assistance, NH Community Loan Fund, Diocese of Manchester,
and Lutheran Social Services. Along with our allies, we were
successful in defeating four of the five bills. However,
one bill got through, allowing small loans with interest rates as
high as 300% to unsuspecting people (using their car title as collateral)
to return to New Hampshire. We and our allies are working hard
to repeal this bad law in 2013, and get predatory lending back out
of New Hampshire once and for all.