Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Change.org”

A Safeway Fairy Tale

Fairy tales never come true, right? You know: the ones where a hero tries to save a damsel in distress (from dragon/bad prince/abusive boyfriend), gets wrongly accused by the all-powerful (insert king/queen/corporate boss), punished by (insert thrown in dungeon/sent on dangerous quest/fired from job in middle of recession), and finally vanquishes his foes (insert with magic sword/unicorn/mass movement from the people) for a happy ending.

Doesn’t happen, right? Wrong.

Ryan Young was working his shift at the meat counter of a Safeway when he saw a man repeatedly push and kick a pregnant woman. Ryan didn’t hesitate and, without regard for his own safety, stepped in to protect the woman from being beaten.

A hero right? His corporate bosses probably gave him a promotion, a raise and, we can forgive them if they exploited this to show that Safeway cares about its customers, plastering pictures of the hero in every place possible.

But Corporate America never misses a chance to do the wrong thing. Claiming that Ryan should have called security instead of stepping in himself, the suspended him without pay and, pending the results of an investigation, might fire him. He should, they said have followed company procedure and called security.

Ryan can be forgiven for being such a good citizen because his wife is also pregnant. They are expecting their baby in a few months, so this is probably as good a time as ever for taking away his income, as he prepares for the financial (as well as emotional) changes.

A Safeway customer, Doug Castro, who is also a security guard, believes Ryan did the right thing by intervening.  Had he called security and held back, the victim could have sustained serious injuries and endangered the life of her baby.

So Mr. Castro turned to Change.orgasking Safeway to lift Ryan’s suspension and give him backpay for the income he lost during his involuntary time away from work.

Indeed, local Police Chief Ron Langford has reviewed the security footage and believes the man who beat his girlfriend could be charged. He also told reporters, “In my mind, in this case Ryan did the right thing.”

Enter the magic sword/wise Jedi master/fairy godmother/whatever – lets call it Change.org and the army of good people form all over the country. Over 180,000 people signed Douglas’ petition asking Safeway to reinstate Ryan with full back-pay, and Safeway has acquiesced.

Ryan’s case became news on CNN and other national media including CBS and Business Insider.

Ryan says he’s “deeply grateful” to everyone who signed the petition. “Knowing that I had all these people standing behind me and that I wasn’t alone really helped me through this difficult time,” said Ryan. “Thank you again to everyone who took the time to help me out.”

And everyone lived happily ever after.

When my boys were younger and we would read them fairy tales and ideologically stories about peace and friendship (I know, poor kids – they have never quite recovered – And To Think That We Thought We Could Never Be Friends should be required reading for every citizen in the world!)  – I would often ask them what we could learn from the story.

So here we go:

– Corporate America can and does get it wrong.

– We can stand up to them when we stand together.

– The Internet can be a powerful tool for change.

– The folks at Change.org are awesome.

– Those who signed the petition are awesome.

– Ryan Young is a hero and should be recognized as one.

– Safeway did the right thing in the end.

And now everyone can live happily ever after.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

 

Change The World

I love change.org. It is a website to help people with their political advocacy by providing a framework to build a petition. This is from a recent eNewsletter that they sent out to subscribers.
In the past three weeks, Apple revamped its policy to protect workers in China, Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp stood up to high school bullies, President Obama took action to protect Syrians living in America from potential torture and death, and a woman named Hope saved her husband from deportation.
Here’s the crazy thing — it’s possible none of this would have happened if people hadn’t started petitions on Change.org. But they did. Today we want to share stories with you of nine people who took a chance to try and change something, earned the support of thousands of signatures, got attention from major media outlets from the New York Times to The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and who ultimately won their campaigns.
These victories are amazing on their own. But we’re even more excited about the potential they represent: we’re living in a time where anyone, anywhere, can use the internet to change the world. (Seriously, you can start a petition right here.)
Keep reading — we hope you find these stories as inspiring as we do.
– Patrick and the Change.org team
 
 
Apple customer Mark sparks promised improvements for workers in China
“Like most Apple customers, I had no idea how appalling the working conditions were at Foxconn, where most iPhones and iPads are assembled. After hearing employees worked excessive hours, in some cases seven days a week, and stood so long their legs swelled until they couldn’t walk, I wanted to write a letter to Apple, but then I thought, why not start a petition instead? 250,000 signatures later, Foxconn has promised major changes, including making sure all employees work no more than 49 hours per week without having their salaries cut. I know great organizations continue to press for additional improvements, but I’m so grateful to have played a part in this amazing first step.-Mark Shields
 
 
Maha and Darakshan save countless Syrians from terror and violence
“Since Syria’s democratic uprising in 2011, the government there has killed thousands of people. Syrian nationals living in America were terrified of being deported and tortured or killed for supporting democracy. We started a petition asking President Obama to grant those Syrians “Temporary Protected Status” so they could stop living in fear, and after 12,000 people and several members of Congress supported our campaign, President Obama came through.-Maha Hilal & Darakshan Raja
 
 
Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp and Ellen DeGeneres support Katy’s fight against bullies
“I used to be bullied so badly that I was afraid to go to school. When I saw that a new documentary made to stop bullying was rated R, I started a petition asking the Motion Picture Association of America to change the rating to PG-13 so that the kids who most needed to see the film would be able to. A few weeks and almost half a million signatures later, I got to be on The Ellen Show. Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, and 35 members of Congress threw their support behind my campaign. Now the movie’s distributor, The Weinstein Company, is releasing the film as ‘unrated’ so that all kids can see the movie.” -Katy Butler
 
 
Mom and food blogger Bettina keeps “pink slime” out of school cafeterias
“I’m a parent who writes about children and food, especially school food reform. So I was upset to learn that USDA was arranging to offer school districts ground beef containing 7 million pounds of ‘lean, finely textured beef,’ more commonly known as ‘pink slime.’ LFTB is made from slaughterhouse scraps previously used only for pet food and cooking oil, and treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill pathogens. In just 9 days, nearly 250,000 signed people my petition, leading the USDA to change its policy and offer districts, for the first time ever, ground beef without this cheap filler.-Bettina Elias Siegel
 
 
Jason takes on an insurance company to help save his dad
“My dad, Henry, had a terrible heart attack last fall that left him with severely impaired cognitive and motor skills. His doctors said that rehab would help him get better, but his insurance provider — Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts — refused to pay. I started a petition on Change.org and almost 200,000 people signed it. Now Blue Cross has agreed to pay for my dad’s care.” -Jason Warren
 
 
Craig — a straight Republican Marine — defends his gay brother’s right to marry
“I served in Iraq to defend freedom and liberty, but the legislature in my home state of New Hampshire wanted to take away my brother Calvin’s freedom to marry the person he loves just because he’s gay. I started a petition asking New Hampshire’s Republican legislature to do the conservative thing: stay out of people’s private lives. More than 125,000 people signed my petition, and the legislature voted to uphold marriage equality. I hope one day I get to be the best man in Calvin’s wedding.” -Craig Stowell
 
 
Cancer survivor mom Jane convinces Mattel to manufacture bald Barbies
I lost my hair when I went through chemo, and I know so many little girls go through the same thing — it can be sad and scary. I started a petition asking Mattel to manufacture a bald Barbie so that little cancer warriors will see that they are beautiful princesses, too. Almost 35,000 people signed my petition, and now Mattel says it will make bald dolls and donate them to children’s cancer wards around America.-Jane Bingham
 
 
Hope Mustakim uses petition to save her husband Naz from deportation
“With the outpouring of support from our community, numerous organizations, churches, Change.org, our incredible legal team, friends and family, and our loving God, my husband Nazry is back home in Waco. Thank you Change.org for believing in our cause and providing a way to gather the support that played a monumental part in winning Naz’s freedom back. We are so grateful.” -Hope Mustakim
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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

Is Nowhere Sacred?

Now I don’t shop that often at Whole Foods on account of the higher prices (even if there is a better, healthier choice). In fact, I once won a $50 voucher and took my wife there on a very memorable date. How did it go? You remember the Willy Wonka story right?

There is a Whole Foods near a building full of dental specialists where my dentist sends me when even he can’t work his magic, and I often leave there numb, sore, in pain, and fall into the warm embrace of the Whole Food isles.

So you can imagine my shock to discover that a young man, who by all accounts was considered a rising star by his employers in a Philadelphia store, found himself fired…for being a Muslim.

Apparently, Glen Mack Jnr.’s supervisor ‘discovered’ that Glen was spending his  vacation, which had been approved months beforehand, making a pilgrimage to Mecca. His boss tried to withdraw the vacation time, purportedly telling Glen: “You can choose. It’s either your job or your religion,”

Glen took his vacation and when he returned, he found himself harassed, demoted, and finally his position was terminated a couple of months later. His position was demoted to part-time and he lost his benefits, including health care.  When he complained to Human Resources, he was apparently ridiculed and harrased when he went to pray, often besides the dumpsters.

Glen Mack Jnr.

Glen did not mount a multimillion dollar law suit against Whole Foods. Apparently, he just wants his job back and this has won him the support of the effective, grassroots organization Change.org. If you click on the link, you will reach a petition calling for Glen’s reinstatement and the creation of a sensitivity training for management.

I went into the Whole Foods website  They have a page dedicated to the core values and have an impressive section entitled: We Support Team Excellence and Happiness. You can read it yourself, but it does give me hope that Whole Foods, who has unquestionable quality in its products, might just have a bad apple or two in its Philadelphia staff.

When asked why HR ignored his request for help, Glen doesn’t trash the company. He thinks that given Whole Foods’ high values, they just couldn’t conceive that such behavior could be happening in their stores.

If this is the case, Whole Foods management will take action fast and remedy the situation. If not, customers will find excellent alternative venues to buy their food. We like it organic, fresh and tolerant.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

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