Victories for those of us concerned with racial, economic, and climate justice are sometimes few and far between. But we are excited to share that in just the last week, there were some very important victories across the country — and three of the ReFrame 2016 mentees were there helping to make them happen. 

Stephanie Gasca

Victory #1: $15 an Hour in the Heartland
Stephanie Gasca, communications lead for Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL) and ReFrame Mentee,  is seeing her hard work to raise the minimum wage in Minneapolis pay off: a judge ruled last week, over the objections of the City Council, to put a minimum wage charter amendment on the ballot for this November’s election. CTUL has been a lead organization in this fight alongside Fight for $15. ​

Stephanie told us,

​“We have been in what seems like an uphill battle to raise the minimum wage in Minneapolis. Having a strategic communications plan around this campaign has been key in keeping the momentum going and getting our side of the story out to the world. We face some of the worse racial disparities in the nation here in Minneapolis. Countless studies and research have shown this. Through our communications plan, as a coalition, we have been able to highlight the faces and the real stories of the folks these studies refer to. We have been able to expose the crisis that low wage workers, disproportionately women, and people of color are facing and why we must raise the minimum wage. Everyday people are the reason that we have the opportunity to vote for 15 in November, not the bosses or the elected officials. It is important that we continue to tell these stories and highlight and uplift the real leaders on the front lines of the Fight For 15.

Check out some coverage of this important victory for low-wage workers here!

Victory #2: On the Frontier of Climate Change
ReFrame mentee Kay Cuajunco leads communications for California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), a statewide, community-led alliance that led the charge to pass two ambitious bills that will ensure that California climate policy protects and benefits communities of color and put the state on a path to ambitiously reduce emissions over the next decade. Last week both bills (SB 32 and AB 197) passed the legislature, and Governor Jerry Brown has stated he will sign them into law, putting California at the forefront of addressing climate change and its impacts on working-class communities of color. 

As Kay put it,
“Strategic communications was key in ensuring policymakers could see the win-win potential of climate policies: regulations that directly reduce emissions in environmental justice communities will lead to cleaner air and improved public health for all of California, and set our state on an aggressive path to transitioning off fossil fuels. As the Big Oil industry and their allies in the legislature tried to block this breakthrough legislation, we countered their efforts by lifting up the stories of our members and their everyday realities on the ground through op-eds placed in key targets districts and strong visuals linking the bills to a broader climate package to increase equity and accountability in California’s climate policy.”

Read how CEJA and other advocates made the compelling case for this legislation here, and read press coverage of this huge victory here and here.

Victory #3: Domestic Workers on the Rise
Big news for California’s 300,000 domestic workers — the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, a bill that granted the domestic workforce the right to overtime pay and that first passed in 2013 as a temporary measure, now may become the permanent law of the land, thanks to the passage last week of SB 1015. It’s now awaiting the signature of Governor Brown.

ReFrame mentee Emi Vallega,who heads up the communications work for both the Pilipino Workers Center and the California Domestic Workers Coalition, played a critical role in the creation of the communications strategy for the campaign.

She shared with us,

Now that we’re waiting for Governor Brown’s signature, visibility for our campaign is needed the most, and this is where strategic communications really comes into play. Besides constant and regular pitching to the press, we also started a #DignityRising social media campaign where we are uplifting the stories of the self-worth of our membership and our allies. In this campaign to win SB 1015, we have been highlighting a new narrative — the importance of dignity and respect for the families of the workers and of the employers. We are also highlighting the importance of winning lasting labor protections for a group of workers that has been historically excluded.”

Read press coverage of the bill here!​

Congratulations to everyone involved in these important and game-changing victories!
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