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Author Topic: Profiles in Courage  (Read 4940 times)

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Re: Profiles in Courage
« Reply #60 on: February 12, 2017, 07:39:23 pm »

Populist Coalition Beats Back Chevron in California Refinery Town 

 Sunday, February 12, 2017 

By Mark Karlin, Truthout | Interview


Can progressive coalitions unite around common interests to successfully battle powerful foes?
    Yes is the answer, as this interview with Steve Early about his book Refinery Town reveals.

Mark Karlin: What are the demographics of Richmond, California, and its contrast to its neighbors, such as Berkeley?

Steve Early: Richmond is a blue-collar city of 110,000, just a few miles from Berkeley. It is 80 percent non-white. About 40 percent of its population is Latino, 30 percent African American, and 10 percent Asian. Nearly one-fifth of its families live at or near the poverty line. It has the lowest median income of 101 cities in the nine-county Bay Area and Latino family income is about $5,000 a year less than that citywide figure.

It's definitely not a university town, like Berkeley. It's been a city of industry for more than a century, growing up around a railhead and ferry to San Francisco, a Standard Oil refinery and a port area that included, during World War II, a Kaiser shipyard employing 100,000 workers.

What is the role of Chevron and the Chevron refinery in Richmond politics?

Until the early 21st century, Richmond City Hall and municipal politics were dominated by Chevron (nee Standard Oil). Big Oil is Richmond's largest employer and a reliable patron of old-guard Democrats, Black or white, eager to do its bidding. Chevron's political partners have included the Richmond Chamber of Commerce and local manufacturers' association, various developers, the building trades, and often, equally conservative public safety unions.

In the last three election cycles alone, Chevron, its labor allies -- and other big special interests -- spent more than $7 million trying to elect business-friendly candidates and defeat activists who are trying to make their city safer, cleaner, greener and more equitable for all its residents. Chevron's tendency to put production and profit ahead of workplace safety, community health and the future of the planet provides no shortage of issues to organize around between elections. Thanks to their year-round, non-electoral work, candidates fielded by the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) have won 10 out of the 16 municipal races they have entered since 2004.

What is the Richmond Progressive Alliance, and why should it be a role model for progressives?


Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. Pr. 13:12


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