The Peace & Justice Center was founded in 1979 — then named the Burlington Peace Coalition. It’s primary emphasis at the time was opposing nuclear power and nuclear arms proliferation. We organized many educational events: speakers and films on the nuclear and conventional arms race and the nuclear fuel crisis; civil disobedience trainings; war tax resistance; draft registration; and other peace issues.
Read More about the 1980’s.
1990 – 1999
We participated in Earth Day 1990 events in Burlington and then led efforts around education and mobilization in response to the Gulf Crisis. This marked the first time that the PJC began networking and organizing demonstrations with other local groups around the state. The Middle East Action Network was created and eventually joined the Coalition. It remained active until the middle of 1991.
Read more about the 1990’s.
2000 was a whirlwind year for the PJC – from major victories in the Vermont Legislature with the passage of a comprehensive livable wage bill (Act 119) to mobilizing wide-spread community support for a union organizing drive of nursing home workers at the Berlin Health & Rehab Center (the 1st in the state!); from helping people of color find good paying jobs in Chittenden County to educating the community about racial harassment in our schools; from providing technical / infrastructure support to grassroots activist groups to reporting in the P&J News on major demonstrations in Seattle, DC, and other cities hosting talks on expanding global trade deals.
In addition to building on our statewide livable wage efforts, we also added two new projects under our umbrella: The Vermont Workers’ Center – which was started 2 years ago by Central Vermonters for a Livable Wage; and Vermont Faith Communities for a Just Economy – a joint project with the Vermont Ecumenical Council. The PJC is providing essential administrative and financial support for these projects, while both have independent Steering Committees to help make staffing, resource and activities decisions.
The Vermont Workers’ Center continues to build an organization that can undertake the slow process of building a strong workers’ movement in Vermont. We continue to raise public awareness of labor issues through our work on the Workers’ Rights Hotline, and our efforts in community organizing, labor solidarity, public relations and education. Over the past year we have assisted workers at Berlin Health & Rehab Center, Capital City Press, Verizon, Ethan Allen Furniture and have received over 550 calls to our Workers’ Rights Hotline.
We also released Phase 6 of the Vermont Job Gap Study entitled The Leaky Bucket: an Analysis of Vermont’s Dependence on Imports. The report focuses on Vermont’s reliance on outside sources of goods, services and capital and quantifies the outflow of dollars, as well as opportunities for import replacement. Throughout state government, agencies are incorporating livable wage language and goals into their work plans. Many businesses have called us to say that they have decided to pay livable wages to their employees. We worked with Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility to release a Livable Jobs Toolkit for small business owners in March.
The Board of the PJC took this past year to examine each of our programmatic areas in-depth and is in the midst of writing a new 5 year strategic plan for the organization. We reached out to the community to help us change and grow internally as well. We held a focus group of peace activists to assist us in thinking about how to revamp our peace and international human rights work. And we assembled two focus groups of supporters to provide critical feedback on the Peace & Justice News and on our overall image in the community.
Read more about the 2000’s.