Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 09.27.19

Friday, September 27, 2019
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—please share widely.


As of today, the 48,000 United Auto Workers (UAW) members have been striking General Motors (GM) for thirteen days.

Now is the time for all of us to stand with UAW members holding the line.

Right now, we’re circulating a sign-on letter in support of the UAW members out on strike to demonstrate our unity across issues in this fight. If you would like to opt-out of this joint statement, email Christopher Honey at by 5:30pm EST today. We’re also collecting statements of support from our partner organizations to share with UAW leadership; we encourage you to share your statements so that the workers on strike know that they have our support.

Two days ago, the House Committee on Education and Labor advanced to the House of Representatives the most ambitious and comprehensive pro-worker legislation since the National Labor Relations Act. The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act would codify important protections for all working people to form and join unions; the advancement of PRO is a major victory for the backbone of this country. Yesterday, GM began covering healthcare of striking workers again after kicking coverage to the UAW on the third day of the strike. The rank and file members have been standing strong and unified, and we are in complete solidarity as they fight for their fair share.

In response to the UAW worker strike demanding fair pay and affordable quality health care, former DI board member and Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard said:

"Greenpeace is in solidarity with the UAW strikers, without question. With little more than a decade left to prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis, we need people power to fight corporate greed and those hell-bent on putting our planet and workers in the crosshairs. These workers deserve real accountability now and it starts with fair pay, affordable quality health care and a pathway towards a better future for these families."

DI board member and NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson gave the following statement:

"I am proud to stand with 50,000 UAW workers on strike fighting for fair wages, affordable health care and job security.”

On Wednesday, September 18, Democracy Initiative Executive Director Wendy Fields released a statement expressing total solidarity with UAW members on strike at GM and making it clear that the right to organize for good jobs is central to our democracy. You can read it here.


Democracy Initiative will be partnering with Baltimore Fair Elections, Baltimore NAACP, Fair Elections Maryland, and RepresentUs MD to hold a Democracy Champions Popular Education Training in Baltimore on September 28, 2019!

Participants will come together to learn about power and democracy’s influence in their everyday lives; they’ll also gain real understanding of their own community’s power to stand up to the corporations and outside money that maintains the status quo. Please spread the word and encourage your Baltimore staff and members to attend!

When: Saturday, September 28, 2019 from 9:30am – 2:00pm
Where: Function Coworking Community, 4709 Harford Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21214

RSVP to the Democracy Champions Training!

Any questions should be directed to our Training and Movement Building Coordinator, Brittny Baxter at


We are now accepting RSVP’s for the 2019 DI Annual Meeting! Partner organization principals and key staff are encouraged to RSVP now!


Additionally, please complete our 2019 Annual Meeting Survey to provide critical input into DI strategy in 2020 and 2021 by sharing your organization’s priorities, as well as nominate candidates for our 3rd Annual Democracy Champions Award Reception following the meeting. In order to submit organizational priorities and Democracy Champions nominations, please complete the Annual Meeting Survey here.

Questions? Contact Jen Lamson at for more information.


Last Friday, September 20, people across the world went out into the streets to fight for the climate.On Monday, September 23, DI partners and allies, Black Lives Matter DC, Friends of the Earth, and Greenpeace participated in collective action in the streets of Washington DC by shutting down over 20 intersections. The action’s design was to “disrupt business as usual” and acutely bring attention to the climate crisis and the corporations and institutions responsible.

At a time when our right to demonstrate is under attack by the same corporations and special interests who are most responsible for the climate crisis, disrupting business as usual sends a powerful message: our right to dissent is a weapon for change.

From the the action’s FAQ about choosing disruption:

“We’ve done permitted rallies and marches, we’ve petitioned, we’ve drafted legislation, we’ve done symbolic civil disobedience, we’ve locked ourselves to drilling equipment in the back woods to shut down fracking sites and pipeline routes where normal people wouldn’t be inconvenienced. And right now we’re further away from serious action on climate change than we were three years ago. Young people around the world have called for bold and dramatic action to protect the world that they are going to inherit. We think it’s time to do something different, we’re ready to take that step and we invite you to join us.”



On Wednesday, September 11, California’s legislature became the twelfth state to pass same-day Registration, a reform gaining momentum around the country that allows voters to register to vote and cast their ballot on the day of an election. Previously, California had passed a limited version of this law in 2012 that authorized certain county election offices to offer same day registration, but this led to notoriously long lines and other difficulties for voters to cast their ballots on Election Day. Should the newly passed bill be signed into law by the governor, California will expand same-day registration to every polling location in the state, making it easier for Americans to participate in our democracy. We expect the bill to be signed into law soon.

We cannot understate the importance of same-day registration, both as a reform that expands access to the ballot and protects voters from unlawful purging. We want to recognize the hard work of DI partner League of Women Voters among others for their work in pushing for this critical reform.

Read more here.


Mitch McConnell, after shutting down election security bill after election security, “relented” last Thursday September 19 by cosponsoring a $250 million allocation of funding to state election officials. The move comes after pressure from election security advocates to fund paper ballot systems after an intelligence community report indicated that Russian agents had tampered with elections in all 50 states.

McConnell attempted to turn around and claim support for funding election security, but only did so after the bill removed provisions for explicitly directing states how to spend the funds, leaving open the possibility that some of the money could be spent on election matters other than security.

Read more here.


According to a statement by the Kentucky Democratic Party, 150,000 voters have been placed inaccurately on an “inactive” list less than two months before the state’s 2019 elections. Democratic Chairman Ben Self, in a letter to the State Board of Elections, claimed “SBE deactivated the voter registration of more than 150,000 Kentuckians behind closed doors with no public notice,” jeopardizing their ability to cast their ballots for governor, attorney general and other state offices.

While the SBE claims these voters potentially satisfy their criteria for “inactivity,” the affected voters cannot be confirmed inactive until after two federal elections have occurred since their last activity, which wouldn’t be until 2022—thereby spreading misinformation and potentially dissuading voters from going to the polls.

Read more here.

* * *