FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 23, 2012
Avery Book, Vermont Workers’ Center, (802) 343-7565, [email protected]
On July 29th and July 30th, the six New England governors and five Eastern Canadian premiers will gather in Burlington, Vermont, under the auspices of an organization supported almost entirely by large corporations working in the industries of energy production and energy transmission.* Though this gathering of public executives is ostensibly devoted to regional cooperation, the focus of its sponsors is on the generation of energy for and transmission of energy to “markets” in large cities to our south.
As our region’s political leaders and their advisors join industrial interest groups and their lobbyists to examine and provide direction for “development” policies aimed at addressing their issues, the members and allies of the Vermont Workers’ Center propose a different focus and a different process. We propose that the governors and
premiers focus on the human rights that arise from the human needs of the people of New England and Eastern Canada, and we propose a process that engages those people in holding their governments accountable for respecting, protecting and fulfilling their rights.
The people of New England and Eastern Canada are struggling. We are homeless or losing our homes to the banks. In the United States, many of us lack access to the healthcare that we need. We work in jobs that do not pay us enough to survive; we work in jobs that are not fulfilling or dignified, or we do not have work at all. We are drowning in student debt. We are watching the services that we depend on — our schools, our fire departments, mental health services — be cut deeper and deeper every year. And we see the natural environment, upon which all life depends, destroyed by consumption and pollution. Meanwhile, we are told that there is not enough for us — that these times demand “austerity” — yet the rich continue to become richer.
Historically, these official gatherings of the powerful have passed resolutions and proposed policies that fail to benefit the majority of the people of the region. In the 36 years since the first conference of New England governors and Eastern Canadian premiers, wealth and prosperity have become increasingly concentrated into the coffers of a tiny minority. Here in Vermont, the richest 1% saw their incomes triple since 1970, while the vast majority of us have faced lower real income, joblessness, crippling poverty, rising household debt and an increasingly precarious future. Resolving to convene dialogues or study issues, without engaging and focusing upon the people involved, is an approach that falls woefully short of upholding the human rights of our people. And a focus on “development” is troubling. History demonstrates that reliance on wealth to trickle down is nothing more than a false promise made by the servants of the greedy. And, anyway, the 99% need more than a trickle.
The people of New England and Eastern Canada will no longer settle for the crumbs that fall from the table upon which corporations feast, because we recognize that it is the feast — not the crumbs — that belongs to us, and there is plenty to share, once we are all at the table. Here in Vermont, members and allies of the Vermont Workers’ Center have learned that people joining together can overcome the politics of greed. Like our Canadian neighbors, the people of Vermont have demonstrated that healthcare is a human right, and we will continue to demonstrate that ordinary people joining together can make government that puts people first. Together, we will continue to demand that our elected officials listen to us and implement policies that put people and the planet first.
We call upon the people of New England and Eastern Canada to join us in Burlington to protest this conference where, behind closed doors, the human and environmental impacts of development will get lip service while the sustainability of corporate profit is the real priority. We rise in solidarity with workers, farmers, students, families and our communities to stand up for livable wages, quality education, universal healthcare, secure housing and protection of the natural environment. We join people from across the region to stand with the people of Quebéc who have risen up to reject the false principle of austerity. We stand together to reject a political agenda that promotes corporate greed over fundamental human need.
We will converge on Burlington, and we will demand a real process leading to real solutions to the issues faced by the 99%. Join us.
More information: http://www.btvconvergence.net/
*There is one non-energy corporation responsible for funding NEGC, Inc.: AT&T, the huge international telecommunications corporation
** Full statement available at: