Econ Justice & Homelessness
UU Multiracial Unity Caucus
UUs for Social Justice has
an Action Alert Network, currently consisting of about 90 individuals.
Some receive Action Alerts and sample letters by e-mail. Other individuals
receive background and sample messages by ground mail. Still other individuals,
who support what we do but find they do not have the time to act timely,
sign up to have our sample messages sent with their merged signature and
address without needing to take action themself. Those individuals receive
a copy of the sample message that was sent automatically. You can start
the process of signing up to participate in the network by clicking on this link, printing out page one (and if following option 1, printing page two as well), filling out and returning them. Action Alerts currently applicable are posted
The Task Force on Economic Justice and Homelessness issued an Action Allert about the new Glass-Steagull Act in July, 2015
Dear Senator [Kirk or Durbin],
After Glass-Steagall passed in the 1930s in response to the Great Depression, America entered a long period of financial stability built on a simple trade off. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) would insure the money everyday Americans deposited in banks, ensuring middle class economic stability. In return, any bank that took deposits could not engage in risky trades and speculative gambles. It was a clear bright line between boring, essential banking and taking a wild chase for profits.
That high wall between high-risk trading and boring banking was punched full of holes in the 1980s and 1990s, until in the late 1990s Glass-Steagall was eventually repealed. Not long after that, the worst crash since the 1930s hit the American economy.
The new, 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, S. 1709, cosponsored by Senators Warren and McCain, is a modern, updated version of the old law, designed to tackle the complexities of modern banking. It would declare that banks can engage in high-risk trading all they want – but not if they have federally-insured deposits. It is about setting tough, clear rules and forcing insured banks to work for Main Street Americans.
This law is needed today more than ever before. Legislation like the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act has been introduced in years past, and regularly attracts a broad cohort of bipartisan sponsors. But today, the biggest banks continue to balloon in size and control huge portions of our economy. Risky trading continues, with high-frequency computer-driven trading adding new risks. Nearly five years after Congress passed Wall Street reform, the Federal Reserve continues to delay implementing the Volker Rule, a ban on using federally insured funds for risky trades that is considered “Glass-Steagall light.
Congress needs to rein in insured banks with the 21 Century Glass-Steagall Act, S. 1709. I urge you to join in co-sponsoring that legislation. I look forward to hearing back from you on this subject.
The Environmental Task Force issued this Action Allert to Governor Rauner supporting President Obama's new clean power plan in August, 2015:
Dear Governor Rauner,
I am writing to urge you to work to implement the Illinois portion of the nation’s new Clean Power Plan, announced by President Obama on August 3. The proposed plan calls for reduction of the large proportion of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions which come from existing power plants, particularly coal fired power plants. I know you will be hearing from coal industry interest groups and US Senators from states that produce large amounts of coal, urging you to be uncooperative with the Clean Power Plan. However, implementing the Clean Power Plan is in the interest of most Illinois citizens, as well as most Americans and the other life on our planet, so I urge you to work to have the Illinois portion of the plan implemented.
EPA’s guidelines require a 32 percent cut in carbon emissions below 2005 levels by power plants nationwide by the year 2030. The proposed rules also would result in reductions in particle pollutions, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent, which EPA officials say would result in 6,600 fewer premature deaths and 150,000 fewer asthma attacks in children a year nationwide, when fully implemented. The health improvements also would result in the avoidance of an estimated 490,000 missed work or school days.
As stated by Frances Beinecke, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the plan would “set fair targets for each state and empowers the states with the flexibility to craft the best local solutions, using an array of compliance tools. If states embrace the huge energy efficiency opportunities, consumers will save on their electric bills and there will be hundreds of thousands of jobs created across the country.”
There is no better place to start than with the aging power plants currently pumping out one-third of the nation’s carbon pollution. The substantial reduction in greenhouse gasses to be achieved through these guidelines will help avert or mitigate the ongoing crisis of climate change and the widespread effect it will have on public health.
I look forward to hearing how you will be working to implement the Clean Power Plan here in Illinois.
The Peace Task Force issued this Action Allert thanking Senator Durbin for supporting and urging Senator Kirk to support SB2145 giving more aid to Syrian and other foreign refugees in November, 2015: [to Durbin]: I want to thank you for co-sponsoring Senate Bill 2145, which would authorize emergency appropriations of $1 billion to aid refugees from Syria and surrounding countries.
The conflict in Syria is escalating daily. Russia has entered the fray, and the US is escalating its involvement. A long-term solution to the violent conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen will be very difficult to achieve, but helping the refugees whose lives have been destroyed by this devastating war is something concrete we can do to improve the situation. Thank you for co-sponsoring the bill.
The world is facing its largest refugee crisis since World War II, and UN assistance to the emigrants is only 38% funded. This SB 2145 would help close the funding gap. Monies could also be used to support refugees resettling in the US. With so many exiles in need, it’s important that our nation make plans to welcome significantly more than just 10,000 refugees as the administration proposes.
The US welcomed a half-million refugees from Cuba and three-quarters of a million from Vietnam. With more than 4 million Syrians fleeing their country and an estimated 7.6 million internally displaced, we need to do more to help. I’m glad that as part of the solution you’ve chosen to co-sponsor this bill. It could help support up to 100,000 refugees in the US in the next two year and help them adjust to a new life in this country.
As a person of faith I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. People trekking across Europe and finding their way barred, people living in the cold without sufficient food and shelter are suffering from both physical and spiritual deprivations. This bill would at least begin to solve that problem.
I agree with what Senator Patrick Leahy said when he introduced this bill: “The disaster in Syria dwarfs anything we have seen for decades, with millions of people uprooted and seeking safety in other countries. It is a humanitarian emergency of staggering proportions, and we need to do more.”
I hope the majority of the US Senate will follow your lead and approve SB 2145. Your whole-hearted support for the bill is making this more likely. Thank you for working to help the many refugees from the Middle East fleeing the conflict and destruction on their doorstep. We need more voices like yours in the US Senate.
The Environmental Task Force issued this Action Allert to all Illinois Representatives (except the sponsers) urging support of HB 5900 the Save Illinois Pollinators Act on April 13
Stratton Building, #
Springfield, IL 62706
As someone who has been concerned about the wide-scale kill off of bees and other pollinators, which the evidence to date indicates is caused by neonicotinoid insecticides, I am asking you to join in cosponsoring HB 5900, the Saving Illinois’ Pollinators Act.
HB 5900 provides that beginning 9 months after the effective date of the Act, it shall be unlawful to apply any neonicotinoid insecticides on any public lands owned or maintained by the State of Illinois. It further provides that beginning 9 months after the effective date of the Act, it shall be unlawful to apply neonicotinoid insecticides in any other outdoor residential settings, including landscaping, ornamental, or other outdoor applications in Illinois. The Act establishes some exemptions to the prohibitions. It further provides that the Department of Agriculture shall, within 6 months after the effective date of the Act, adopt rules further defining and implementing specified provisions of the Act, and within one year after the effective date of this Act, issue a draft evaluation report.
I look forward to your reply and hope you will consider joining as a co-sponsor of HB 5900.
The Environmental Task Force issued this Action Allert to both US Senators cautioning against GMOs and encouraging labeling on June 29
Dear Senator Durbin (or) Kirk:
I believe that Americans should have the right to know what is in their food. For this reason I believe that foods which contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) should be so labeled.
Vermont has become the first state to require clear GMO labeling on all food products. Citizens of other states should be able to enact similar legislation.
I understand that large agricultural firms and large food companies are pushing Congress to pass legislation that would invalidate state laws requiring clear GMO labeling. I urge you to support freedom of information and oppose such legislation.
The truth should not be withheld from the American people as the result of an Act of Congress.
The Task Force on Economic Justice and Homelessness issued an Action Allert on July 11th to Illinois Comptroller Munger requesting an equitable payment of vouchers for services already provided to the homeless
Dear Comptroller Munger,
I am writing as an Illinois voter who is concerned about Illinois’ services to the homeless and how payments to contracted service providers will be made under the “Stop-Gap Budget”, enacted as Public Act 099-0524 on June 30, 2016. While that Act provided 100% of the funds needed to pay for contracted Homeless Prevention services provided in FY 2016, and 100% of the Emergency and Transitional services provided in FY 2016, it provided only 76% of the funds needed to pay for the Homeless Youth services contracted for and provided in FY 2016, and it provided only 65% of the funds needed to pay for the Supportive Housing services contracted for and provided in FY 2016.
For the sake of equity, and to assure that as many of our providers of services to the homeless survive and continue providing services to the homeless, I urge that each of the vouchers for Homeless Youth services be paid at the rate of 76 cents on the dollar, and that each of the vouchers for Supportive Housing be paid at the rate of 65 cents on the dollar. This will be more equitable that paying 100% of the amount of the vouchers at the top of the stack and nothing on the vouchers lower in the stack. It will also make it more likely that all, or at least the greatest number of providers of service to the homeless will be able to survive the shortfall of payments on their contracted services.
The Environmental Task Force issued this Action Allert on August 25th to President Obama for vetoes of permits of mountaintop removal by coal mining and to urge EPA to protect the quality of the water below:
Dear President Obama,
Thank you for your perseverance in defending your veto of the outrageous Spruce No. 1 Mine. The Supreme Court recently affirmed EPA authority under the Clean Water Act. This should spur you to more action to stop mountaintop removal mining pollution.
I urge you to use this Clean Water Act authority to veto more mountaintop removal mine permits--because every permit is a violation of the Clean Water Act. One veto is simply not enough.
I also urge you to take immediate action to urge the EPA to promulgate a numeric water quality standard under Clean Water Act section 303(c)(4) to protect streams below mountaintop removal in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia from mining pollution and harmful levels of conductivity, and to ensure that the standard is fully implemented in those states.
A federal water quality standard for conductivity (or an appropriate, related parameter to address ionic stress) would build on the work EPA did over the past four years and provide the greatest immediate protection for waters and communities. EPA has already developed a strong body of science that demonstrates that mountaintop removal mining is having an "extreme ecological effect" on Appalachian waters and streams.
Unfortunately, EPA's approach thus far has not solved the problem, and EPA needs to issue a binding rule. The problem demands a federal water quality standard in the four Appalachian states with surface coal mining pollution. Only the publication of a federal numeric water quality standard under section 303(c)(4) of the Clean Water Act for Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia will ensure that EPA's commitment to follow the science will have a lasting impact. Solving the ionic pollution problem by setting protective federal water quality standards on conductivity (or an appropriate, related parameter) in Appalachia would be a legacy accomplishment for this administration, backed by robust science and widespread public support.
I urge your Administration to begin work immediately and issue a strong, science-based federal water quality standard as soon as feasible.
The Unitarian Universalist Multiracial Unity Action Caucus (UUMUAC)Task Force issued this Action Allert on September 11th to all Illinois Senators urging them to support S.B. 3292 which lowers the punishment for possesion of a small amount of illegal drugs:
Illinois has been locking up its residents for possessing or using small amounts of controlled substances. That is a waste of our state’s very limited tax dollars. The Department of Corrections and our county jails need to focus their resources on violent criminals and those who have committed more serious crimes. It also brands small time users as felons, making it more difficult for them to find or maintain employment and be able to support themselves and any family they may have. Such crimes should just be misdemeanors, punishable with fines.
In line with this point of view, I urge you to join in co-sponsoring S.B. 3292, which was introduced by Senator Raoul. That legislation amends the Illinois Controlled Substances Act. It provides that any person who knowingly possesses not more than 1 gram of a controlled substance or counterfeit substance is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, rather than a Class 4 felony. It also amends the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act to provide that the fine for a violation punishable under this provision shall not be more than $2,500.
I look forward to your response.
The UUSJ Peace Task Force issued an Action Alert to Senators against the use and sale of drones by the US on October 13, 2016:
Dear Senator [Kirk or Durbin],
I am writing to urge you to ban the use and sale of drone weapons by the United States. Use of these weapons is immoral and arguably illegal.
As a person of faith and a committed Unitarian-Universalist, I believe in justice, equity and compassion in human relations and in the goal of world community with peace and liberty for all. Targeted drone strikes and the impersonal killings both on and off the battlefield disregard these principles.
The National Defense Authorization Action (S 2943), now in conference committee, includes an estimated $4.6 billion in drone-related spending. The US Congress needs to more tightly control how drone weapons are used and require fuller reporting on their use. The Senate should hold hearings to decide whether it’s legal to use drone weapons outside of a war zone and how in general international law applies to them. Even our allies are questioning the use of these weapons: a German court is considering the legality of launching drone attacks from Ramstein Air Base; the European Parliament condemns our drone warfare policy and calls it “extrajudicial targeted killing”.
Michael Ranter of the Center for Constitutional Rights calls drone attacks “completely illegal” even within war zones and with Presidential approval. According to Sarah Luford of the European Parliament, “US drone killings operate in disregard of long-established international legal frameworks about when it’s lawful to kill people.”
Even President Obama admits drone strikes are killing civilians as well as combatants. According to a report issued by the Director of National Intelligence, 64 - 116 “civilian bystanders” were killed by drone strikes in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Other estimates put that number even higher. A UN report in September, 2015 stated that American drone strikes had killed as many as 40 Yemeni civilians.
Deaths are occurring outside of war zones. Children and non-combatants are being killed as well as targeted terrorists. According to the Guardian, attempts to kill 41 men in 2014 resulted in a total of 1,147 deaths. On January 15, 2015 US aid worker Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto were killed by drones in Pakistan, where they were being held by al Qaeda. These deaths have to stop.
In April of this year, US Army Reserve Chaplain Chris Antal resigned his military commission citing his opposition to the military’s use of drone strikes and the nation’s policy on nuclear proliferation. In the open letter he wrote to the President, Rev. Antal, a Unitarian-Universalist minister, wrote: “For me, democracy is about checks and balances. Democracy is about due process. These drone wars have blown due process up in smoke. They’ve blown checks and balances up in smoke. . . I will not lend religious legitimacy to this state-sanctioned violence.”
I join my voice to Rev. Antal’s in opposition to drone warfare. Please do what you can to see these targeted killings are stopped and to see that US drone weapons aren’t sold to other countries.
The Task Force on Economic Justice and Homelessness issued an Action Allert against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on October 17, 2016
Dear Senator [Kirk or Durbin],
It is anticipated that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement will be brought before the Senate for a vote sometime after the elections and prior to the end of this Congress.
In this year’s Presidential primaries the three leading vote getters (Sanders, Clinton and Trump) were opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Agreement. That reflected the fact that most Americans do not want that trade agreement approved by Congress.
Proposed trade agreements must respect local development goals and procurement policies that deliver on them. Trade agreements should not impede governments in ways that harm local development, environment or social goals. The provisions must maintain existing “Buy American” preferences, as well as prevailing wage requirements, green preferences, human rights preference, etc.
Trade Agreements should not grant individual corporations and investors special powers to privately enforce agreement terms by challenging laws, regulations and court decisions through tribunals circumvent our judicial systems. We need to safeguard the ability of governments to regulate in the public interest.
Any country’s human and labor rights must be adhered to in any trade agreement to help reverse the global race to the bottom in working conditions and environmental practices.
Trade pacts should contain clear and specific language stating that nothing in the agreement should require deregulation or privatization of any private or public service. (such as banks, insurance companies, hedge funds and other financial service providers.)
Trade agreements should set floors, rather than ceilings, when it comes to environmental, food and product safety standards. Trade Pacts are also inappropriate for extending the length of drug patents.
Congress should not give up its power to regulate trade. There should be an assessment of what job creation and export expansion the agreement would provide and how a proposed agreement would impact human and labor rights, the environment, food sovereignty, access to medicine, and balance of trade for the countries involved.
As the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership fails to meet those standards, I urge you to oppose the treaty that would approve that trade agreement.
The Environmental Task Force issued this Action Allert to Illinois Representatives to co-sponsor SB 0550 to reduce lead levels in October, 2016:
Dear Representative [name],
I am writing to urge you to join in co-sponsoring SB 0550, to reduce the level of lead pollution in our community water systems, particularly those serving our schools. This legislation passed the Illinois Senate with broad, bi-partisan support. It is now in the House Rules Committee, but may very well come before the House in either a post-election “Veto” session, or when the current General Assembly convenes for a couple days in January, prior to the swearing in of the next General Assembly.
SB 0550 amends the Department of Public Health Act, providing that by June 30, 2018 the Department of Public Health shall adopt specified rules concerning identifying lead service lines and plumbing in schools that pose a lead hazard and mitigating such lead hazards. The Act amends the Environmental Protection Act, adding provisions concerning lead in drinking water prevention. It also provides that prior to December 31, 2019, schools shall collect and the owner or operator of a community water supply shall analyze for lead a first-draw sample from representative sources of potable water located at each school within the community water supply distribution system. It further provides that within 180 days of the effective date that the owner or operator of a community water supply shall develop and submit to the Department of Public Health a plan to compile a comprehensive inventory of all lead service lines within the community water supply distribution system including privately owned lead service lines. It provides that on or before April 15 of each year, the owner or operator of a community water supply shall submit to the Department of Public Health an inventory of all known lead service lines within its community water supply distribution system. It further provides that beginning January 1, 2017, when conducting routine inspections of community water supplies as required under this Act, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency may conduct a specified audit. The Act contains provisions concerning notification requirements for owners or operators of community water supplies. This Act also adds sampling and replacement of lead pipes and fixtures in schools to the purposes of the Water Pollution Control Program. Lastly, it makes a conforming change in provisions concerning regulations and priorities.
I hope you will see fit to co-sponsor SB0550. I look forward to your reply.
The Environmental Task Force issued this Action Allert on October 30th to President Obama to continue stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline
Dear President Obama,
Please revoke the Army Corps of Engineers' approval of permits for the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). This pipeline, approved only after a flawed review process, threatens lands sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux of North Dakota. The pipeline threatens the tribe's health by running under Lake Oahe, their primary source of drinking water. And it jeopardizes the Standing Rock Sioux's hard-won sovereignty.
I applaud your administration for temporarily halting construction of parts of the pipeline. Now I urge you to go further and repeal the permits for this project and conduct a full, truthful environmental review that includes proper tribal consultation.
The UUMUAC Task Force issued this Action Allert on February 24th, 2017, to Illinois Representatives to support HB 3421
I am writing to urge you to join in co-sponsoring H.B. 3421, which was introduced this month by Rep. Christian Mitchell. This legislation would amend Illinois’ laws related to criminal justice to abolish the use of money bail in Illinois. Modeled after the system in place in the District of Columbia, and now being instituted in other jurisdictions around our country, this legislation would establish a system under which release before trial would be based on a risk assessment system, rather than on an individual’s ability to post money bail. Where an individual is assessed as posing a threat to society he or she would be held in jail until trial. Where an individual is not found to pose a risk to society he or she would be freed on an I-Bond, rather than posting a money bond. This creates a system that is much fairer, in that it does not tie release to an ability to pay standard.
To enable accused individuals to meet their obligation to appear, enhanced pretrial services that would remind defendants of upcoming court dates via phone or messaging and offer transportation assistance for indigent defendants will be required. Public availability of court dockets online would also help.
By not tying the release of poor defendants to an ability to pay standard, tax payers would be relieved of the costs of jailing defendants who do not pose a threat to society during the period prior to their court date. Poor defendants, who do not pose a threat to society, would not risk the loss of their jobs due to missing significant days of work, and the individual and his or her dependents would not risk loss of housing and other adverse impacts, due to the loss of income/employment.
Our communities will be stronger, our criminal justice system more fair, and our taxpayers less burdened, by the changes proposed in H.B. 3421. I again urge you to join in co-sponsoring this legislation. I look forward to your response, with your position on this legislation.