News You Can Use – March 17, 2022


PA Stands Up

PA Primary Now May 17th | Petitioning Kicks off This Weekend | Your Pi Day Recipe

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It’s not often we get to cover breaking news on a weekly newsletter. Plenty of your favorite politicos have been wringing their hands for months waiting for the maps to be finalized. Several campaigns have been stuck in a rut waiting for a final word from the PA Supreme court to see if they could even get on the ballot. At around 4pm on Wednesday afternoon, we got our answer. There’s more info below, but we know that this kind of delay has been unprecedented and the best way that we can work together to ensure fair maps is to elect transformative movement candidates that can take control of the systems designed to keep us down. Our plan for our chapters is to keep knocking on doors and sharing our values, as shown by our stalwart rural organizer Onah Ruth Ossai in this profile. There’s a lot of news to cover in this week’s edition, but also a lot of hope for the future. (And a pie recipe at the end!)

In Solidarity,

Ashleigh, Onah, Lev and the PA Stands Up team

What’s happening in Pennsylvania?

Whole Home Repairs Bill
Do we wear snow boots or sandals today? The whiplash from this week’s weather has some of us boomeranging the thermostats at home. But for most folks in PA, houses remain cold in winter with repairs too expensive to even dream of fixing. And that doesn’t just raise our heating bills, but also contributes to fossil fuel dependency and climate change. Next week, we’re so excited to have a strong action step toward mitigating expensive home repairs! In LehighLancaster and Berks Counties, our members are joining Senator Nikil Saval to launch his Whole Home Repairs initiative that would provide a state-run one stop shop for desperately needed repairs. Join us!

Election News (and Opinions)
This op-ed from members of Make the Road PA and the Amistad Law Project outlines the racial history of voter suppression in the United States as well as offering three solutions to negate the effects of it.

Petitions for candidates for US Congress, US Senate, Governor, Lt. Governor and County Committee person were all due Tuesday. Nearly 200 PASU members in Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia and NEPA successfully got on the ballot, many of them first-time candidates. A challenge period begins now that allows candidates and attorneys to attempt to knock one another off the ballot by invalidating signatures. The PA Supreme Court announced Wednesday that petitions for the State House, State Senate and State Committee will begin on Friday, March 18th and conclude on March 28th.

The Supreme Court also confirmed Tuesday May 17th, 2022 as the date of the PA spring primary election. This is an incredibly short turnaround for candidates to get their petitions in. They usually have nearly a month to gather hundreds if not thousands of signatures and they’re looking at a 10 day turnaround.

We want you to be involved with your chapters and their endorsement processes! Most of our chapters make endorsements after the primary ballot has been finalized, so make sure you’re a dues paying member in time to chime in! If you know a candidate that is running for office and you support them, the best way to show your support now is to contact them to sign their petition before Friday March 28!

What’s happening nationally?

The Biden Administration has launched round two of their Great COVID Test Giveaway. Households can now order 4 additional rapid tests to be delivered to them from this website.

Soaring gas prices are hitting working Americans the hardest, leaving many to wonder if it is worth it. In PA, Governor Wolf is joining other governors in calling on congress to suspend the federal tax on gasoline. Congressional climate hawks have their own proposal to help Americans struggling at the pump that will transition the US to renewable energy and reduce our long-term dependence on oil.

The increase in gas prices stems from already high inflation but is exacerbated by the Biden Administration’s decision to stop the US import of Russian oil in an effort to stop Putin’s war in Ukraine. This decision was made a week after the State of the Union address where President Biden urged Americans working from home to return to the office.

What’s happening globally?

International Women’s Day: A socialist holiday guide

International Women’s Day happened last week! While we all spend this day celebrating the many achievements of important women, it is also a time to reflect on the history of this day which came about as women garment workers were protesting for their rights.

In the US, roughly the first week of March symbolizes Equal Pay Day, or how far into the year the average median woman must work in order to have earned what the average median man had earned the entire previous year. These holidays are proudly brought to you by socialism and worker solidarity.

What’s happening locally?

School Shenanigans
Scranton School Board voted to make masks optional this past week despite the fact that the School Board itself has not returned to in-person meetings.. During the same meeting they voted to dismantle a library to make space for a STEM academy program. While this news is infuriating it is made better knowing that both NEPA Stands Up endorsed candidates voted against these measures.

Libraries across the state are under attack from spending cuts to education. Librarians in Philly (which has one of the worst librarian to student ratio in the country) are looking to the stars of the hit television show Abbott Elementary to help them fund books and supplies to Philly public schools.

The Kids Are All Right. Students in York, PA wanted their schools to be more inclusive. Instead, the board of education implemented a ban on anti-racist books and educational materials. Luckily, the Panthers never say die. The York Panthers banded together and overturned the ban, and they’re fighting for their curriculums to include more gender and race inclusivity.

News for Working Folks
Paid Sick Leave in Philly. In Philadelphia, Working Families Party council member Kendra Brooks led and passed a second paid COVID sick leave bill for workers. Brooks says that employers are taking advantage of workers’ illnesses due to COVID, and these protections are desperately needed. “With many other protections being phased out, we must ensure that we aren’t sacrificing our workforce for convenience and profit.”

New union contract. Long time readers of News You Can Use will be glad to hear that the union at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital has been ratified by the RNs with $9.2M in raises over 3 years. The workers had threatened a strike back in January that never occurred because the threat of the strike was enough for the employers to bow to the pressure. We love it when a plan comes together, and when workers exercise their freedom to organize!


Recommendations from this Great Nation

Dimo Ortiz of Reclaim Philadelphia recommends curling up with some hot tea and watching “Sort Of” on HBO Max. It is an inclusive show with accurate representations of non-binary people. It reminds us of the importance of honest representation and why we must share our stories.

And just in time to be late for Pi Day… well, this isn’t a pie, but we’re pretty sure that any round dessert counts. Our Operations Manager Emily Platt brings us an olive oil cake sure to please the pickiest of mathematicians.