Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.

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Advocacy Report Back

July 27, 2016

In the past few months, thousands and thousands of UUSC supporters have taken action in support of social justice and human rights. Thank you! Whether you’ve shown up at a rally, signed a petition, or taken a moment to read one of our recent reports—your partnership in this work is making a difference.

Here’s an update on some of our activities and how you can get involved in challenging injustice and advancing human rights. Make sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all the latest news!

Economic Justice

IW #BoycottWendys in Columbus, OhioIn late June, over 50 protestors took to the streets of Columbus, Ohio in support of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ boycott of Wendy’s for failing to sign the Fair Food Program.

Wendy’s is the only U.S. fast food chain that has refused to join the Fair Food Program. Signing onto this program would require them to pay just one penny per pound more for the tomatoes they buy, and ensure things like better healthcare and working conditions for their workers. Nearly 9,000 UUSC supporters have signed a petition to Wendy’s leadership demanding the company join McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Taco Bell, and Chipotle in committing to fair treatment and improved wages for farmworkers. These petitions were delivered directly to Wendy’s headquarters in Dublin, Ohio!

In May, the #GoodFoodNow coalition delivered over 130,000 petitions to Olive Gardens in seven cities asking for fair wages for workers, local and organic food options, and improved animal welfare.

Darden, the company that owns Olive Garden, has already agreed to one of the coalition’s demands, but we’re continuing to increase the pressure. More than 2,000 UUSC supporters have sent messages directly to Darden’s management, asking Olive Garden to prioritize these changes.

Rights at Risk

detention center in Karnes, Texas
The detention center in Karnes, Texas, where families have endured and continue to endure jail-like conditions.

On Wednesday, June 1, a Texas district judge issued a temporary injunction preventing the state from issuing a child care license to a for-profit immigration detention center in Dilley, Texas, while a case against granting that license is being heard. Meanwhile, as news of the inhumane conditions in these centers spreads, private prison management companies are struggling to find partners to collaborate in the opening of new family detention facilities. In June, the county commissioners in both Jim Wells and Dimmit Counties unanimously rejected proposals to locate for-profit family detention centers in their jurisdiction. We’re excited that the tide seems to be turning toward justice for asylum-seeking families and will continue to follow these developments closely.

UUSC has long been a vocal advocate for the tens of thousands of refugees who are coming to the United States after fleeing violence in Central America. As part of a coalition led by Grassroots Leadership and RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services), we are working to stop the routine detention of asylum-seeking mothers and children. Our coalition also stands against the documented abuses of traumatized family members at the hands of U.S. Border Patrol officials, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the staff of private, for-profit detention centers.

And we’re also driving forward changes in policy toward these refugees. Thousands of UUSC activists have supported this work by calling on Congress to pass the act to ensure refugee children are fairly represented before deportation hearings – and thanks to your actions, nearly 50 more senators and representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.

On Mother’s Day, hundreds of UUSC supporters co-signed a Mother’s Day card to Michelle Obama and other White House moms, asking them to visit one of the immigrant detention centers and meet with the mothers there. UUSC worked with a group of formerly detained immigrants to deliver these cards, with flowers, to White House staff.

Environmental Justice

Last month, we released a  research report, The Invisible Crisis: Water Unaffordability in the United States, which sheds new light on the breadth of the country’s water crisis; pinpoints the sources of unequal access to clean, affordable water; and reveals the harsh reality people face when they can’t afford basic water and sanitation services.

In April, more than 3,000 UUSC supporters sent messages to the EPA, calling on them to include water affordability in the national climate adaptation plan. And staff member Hannah Hafter delivered them in a meeting with EPA Senior Policy Advisor Jeff Peterson.

And in February, UUSC, the National Coalition on Legislation for Affordable Water (NCLAWater), and other groups went to Capitol Hill to raise public awareness and press for federal legislation to make water and sanitation services affordable for all; to stop mass water shutoffs; to win new protections for vulnerable populations at risk of losing their access to clean, affordable water; and to end criminalization of individuals who cannot pay their water bills.

How You Can Take Action

  • #BoycottWendys and join an action in your area with our partners at the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.
  • Looking for ways to #WelcomeRefugees? Join the UUSC Refugee Rapid Response Network to connect with others who are protecting the rights of the world’s refugees. As a member of this new network, you’ll receive special alerts on how you can take action in your community to benefit individual refugees and counter anti-immigrant bigotry.
  • Learn more about how you can take action to address the world’s refugee crisis via our Refugee Support and Advocacy Toolkit.
  • Donate to support UUSC’s work as we advance justice at home and worldwide. All donations above $125 will be matched, dollar-for-dollar!

We’re amazed by the things we can achieve when we come together and speak out for justice. Thank you for your support and dedication – every time you stand up for human rights!

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