Obama Ensures Equal Pay for Equal Work

In a solid victory for workers in the United States, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act into law yesterday. After winning enough votes in the House of Representatives and the Senate to be passed on to the President’s desk, it became the first piece of legislation to bear his signature. Civil rights movements, the Unitarian Universalist denomination, and countless dedicated individuals have been fighting wage discrimination for decades.

The Fair Pay Restoration Act removes restrictions on the length of time a worker has to file a wage discrimination lawsuit against an employer. Lilly Ledbetter, for whom the new law is named, had worked at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in Gadsden, Alabama for 20 years before she realized that although she had the same skills and training, she was being paid up to 40% less than her male colleagues. Many employees don’t learn about pay disparities and their rights to claim equal pay for the work that they have done until well into their careers. The Lilly Ledbetter Act makes it possible for those who may have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars due to wage discrimination based on age, gender, ethnicity, religion or disability to seek and win legal recourse no matter how much time has gone by.

Seventy-year-old Lilly Ledbetter has been working selflessly towards the passage of this law since the Supreme Court ruling two years ago that denied her rights to the money she lost. Speaking to First Lady Michelle Obama Lilly says, “I will never see a cent from my case. But with the passage and the president’s signature today, I have an even richer reward. I know my daughters and granddaughters and your daughters and your granddaughters will have a better deal.”

The First Lady’s comments at the reception she held for Ms Ledbetter expressed her solidarity with “women of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, older women, younger women, women with disabilities and their families” by recognizing the new law as a “cornerstone of a broader commitment to address the needs of working women who are looking to … not only ensure that they’re treated fairly, but also to ensure that there are policies in place that help women and men balance their work and family obligations without putting their jobs or their economic security at risk”. The President stated, “Signing this bill today is sending a clear message: that making our economy work means making sure it works for everyone.”

On a personal level, I couldn’t be happier, and I couldn’t agree more. I think I’ll take a walk by the White House this evening in a silent expression of gratitude.

Working Faithfully for a Living Wage

When I attended my first Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign meeting after the 2004 election we were asked to raise our hands if we knew what the federal minimum wage was, and if we knew what the minimum wage was in our state. I was mortified that I did not know but felt slightly better seeing that many of the other denominational advocacy staff did not know either. The people in the room that did know were organizers from ACORN, Jobs with Justice, and the Let Justice Roll Living Wage organizers.

My experience was pretty typical for a middle-class, middle-aged, white person. I haven’t known what the minimum wage is since I worked for it myself as a teenager and later when I worked as a community organizer in low-income communities. (If my son was old enough to work after school I may have known!)

In any case, the experience demonstrated sharply for me how those of us doing advocacy work can get pretty out of touch with the realities of poverty and oppression in our country. I mean we know it exists, but start doing the math of living on $6.55/hour and it breaks your heart.

Through the UUA’s partnership with the UUSC on the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, I have learned who low-wage workers really are and what they are facing.

Three out of four minimum wage workers are age 21 or older. Two out of three minimum wage workers are women. Most minimum wage workers are women with children. They are healthcare workers, childcare workers, food service workers. People of color and immigrants make up a disproportionate percentage of minimum wage workers. Most minimum wage workers are high school graduates. Many teenagers working in minimum wage jobs are working to save for a college education. The next minimum wage increase of $7.25 in July 2009 (the third and final increment of the legislation passed in 2007) will affect 10% of the workforce nationally, and close to 20% in several states, particularly in the south.

It would take a $10.08 minimum wage now to match the buying power of the minimum wage in 1968—four decades ago.

I’m proud that the UUA and UUSC are working in solidarity with low-wage workers and their families. Through our joint efforts we have connected with congregations already doing living wage work and encouraged others to get involved. Hundreds of UUs participated in the Let Justice Roll Campaign to raise the federal minimum wage for the first time in ten years in 2007. Now Let Justice Roll is working again to get closer to a living wage with another raise to $10 in 2010

UUA President Rev. William Sinkford’s Op Ed about the $10 in 2010 Campaign is inspiring and informative. It was run in several African American weekly newspapers over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and on several progressive websites. See Hope and Change for Low-Wage Workers.

I’m also inspired by what our congregations are doing. See reports on President Sinkford’s Living Wage Sunday at the UU Church of Nashua NH on Sunday, January 25th and

Reflections from a 12 year old daughter

Meg’s daughter, Jie Wronski-Riley, shares her Inauguration Week impressions.

The Sun was rising, Bright and hopeful,
The people were gathering, light and soulful

As a country, as a nation we have risen to this occasion.

January 16, 2009

From Milwaukee to DC
I was traveling alone which basically meant that I was sat down in a chair and ignored for about two hours. When we finally boarded I was sitting next to a woman who liked solitare and we exchanged small talk. I’ve flown on a plane many times before but this was different from those times, everyone except the stiff-necked businessman used the name Obama in every other sentence and there was an aura of tingling exhilaration that couldn’t be forced down by any number of delays and missed flights. This was a sample of what was to come during my stay in Washington.

January 17, 2009

Shopping
Today we went to get Obama souvenirs. First we went to the “Official Obama Store.” As we entered the small street shop we were greeted by women, children and men milling around the little tables plucking buttons, pins, and stickers out of metal tubs.

Quilt Show
In the museum of D.C. there was a show of wall hanging quilts from all over the states and world . All of these quilts were inspired by the Obama campaign.

January 19, 2009

Kids Inaugural
My long time friends Lina and Renci have an aunt that was the main commissioner on the obama campaign in the whole state of Michigan. And this aunt just happened to have tickets to the Disney kids inaugural. She had an extra ticket and she insisted that she couldn’t just leave me behind so I went to this Disney concert at the verizon center. It was great! I really admired how all the free tickets went to military families, many whom had a parent overseas. I also liked how they incorporated the inauguration into a kid friendly place.

January 20, 2009

Inauguration
photo by Jie Wronski-Riley

The excitement in the crowd was in-comprehendible we rushed, well as fast as we could which is about as fast as a slug who pulled a muscle. There were long wide masses that muddled along buzzing energetically about where they were from what had brought them here and how long the line was. It was a very bleak, freezing, almost sunless day, this was the day that we had been waiting for. The day which to some was a miracle when Barack H. Obama became our president after 8 long years of the bush reign. We had high hopes and frost-bitten but elated spirits. While we were standing about people were hopping up and down, swaying from side to side, and watching the monitor intently. After about an hour of waiting the jumbo-tron switched from showing pictures of the momentous American flag and high and mighty capitol to the red carpet of the 56th presidential inauguration. There were the powerful house representatives, the mighty senators, the old but noble former presidents and the celebrities. The crowd played a game of guess that big shot and most of the time there was a cry of “An old guy in suit and wearing a tie!”. When the crowd recognized someone other than by the color of their neck garment it was soon accompanied by a unanimous wave of boos or a great mass of encouragement and cheering . Then following hours of waiting in these bone-chilling temperatures and huge face buffeting gusts of wind Barack Obama walks down to his family as rigid as I’ve ever seen him. The mobs go wild! While Joe Biden is sworn in as vice president I wonder aloud what an odd duo Biden and bush would be. Then Obama steps up and places his hand on the bible. Everything is focused on this inspiring man and the oath he is taking. Some of the tension is let out when the jumbo-tron is about ten words behind the speakers and a whole clog of tall people are right in your line of vision, people who have an uncanny knack to sway right when you try to see right and to swing left when you attempt to catch a glimpse left. “So help me god.” repeats Barack Obama, seconds later the picture of Barrack Obama moves his mouth saying “so help me god.” The applause was tremendous! It was like a booming waterfall rushing down and rolling long and deep. There was a small sense of relief, that this actually happened, that Barack Obama is really the president of the United States of America!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now this day we’ve renewed the pride and steadiness that America is famous for.

The time is Now For the Change We Seek Hope is in the air

For more photos of the Inauguration in DC, visit the Advocacy & Witness facebook page.

My Country Tis of Thee

Taquiena Boston is Director of the UUA’s Identity-Based Ministries and a native resident of Washington, DC. She offers some of her experiences of this week’s inauguration:

“No more bargaining with God,” my mother said after we watched the Inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama from Station 9, a restaurant on U Street in Washington, DC.  When I asked her what that meant, she said that just as she had prayed to see my sister and me grow up and hit the significant birthdays and benchmarks in our lives — as well as her personal benchmarks, — she prayed that she would live to see Barack Obama inaugurated as president.

My mother turned 81 on January 2, 2009.  She was the youngest daughter, ninth child and first of my grandmother’s 10 children to be born in Washington, DC during segregation and on the brink of the Great Depression. When we researched my mother’s genealogy in Culpeper County, VA, we learned that her matrilineal line dates back to the late 1700s in the United States. We even found the name of the man who “last owned” her great grandfather, Abram. As my sister photocopied the census information from “The Colored People of Culpeper County” that named my mother’s grandmother and the names of her great and great-great grandparents, my mother’s reaction was “I feel like I belong to something.”

In the last several years, walking and crowds have become more challenging for my mother.  So on January 20, 2009, she, my sister and I went to a U Street restaurant reserved by “DC for Obama” for campaign volunteers and friends to watch the Inauguration. I wore my deceased father’s sweater loaded with all my campaign buttons. (Because my father’s ancestry also extended more than 200 years in the Commonwealth of Virginia, I had worn this sweater while canvassing and doing Get Out the Vote in Prince William County, VA to feel the support of my ancestors as I knocked on doors in communities unknown to me.) I gave my mother the Obama-Biden inauguration button purchased the day after the election.

During the election, my mother and I had several conversations about what it was like be a citizen of a country in which you are also treated like the stranger. My own experiences traveling outside the United States brought home to me how much I am a product of “American” culture. But it surprised me to hear my mother say that most often she felt like she was an exile or refugee. So the most moving part of Inauguration Day for me was when Aretha Franklin sang “My Country Tis of Thee.”  The “Queen of Soul” hardly got out “sweet land of liberty” when my mother grabbed the tissues from her purse and started sobbing.  I put my arm around “Mommy” as several tears rolled down my own cheeks.

When the inauguration ceremony was over, I asked my mother what had moved her about “My Country Tis of Thee.”  She said “we used to sing that song in school all the time when I was a girl, but I never believed it was true for me until now.  Today, this is my country, too.”

Victory for Republic Window Workers!


On Dec. 10th, the workers at Republic Windows & Doors voted to accept a $1.75 million settlement that will cover eight weeks of pay owed under the WARN Act, unused vacation days and two months of health care coverage. The settlement marked the end of a six-day factory occupation. Last Tuesday, Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) board members visited with and prayed over the workers. Below is a reflection by Rev. Aaron McEmrys, an IWJ Board member and Minister of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara.

Inside Republic Windows and Doors

Yesterday, in Chicago, Illinois, that strange place where they send their Senators to the White House and their Governors to jail – I got to pray with the heroes.
I was far from my home in sunny Santa Barbara for my first meeting as a member of Interfaith Worker Justice’s board of directors. IWJ is a network of people of faith from many different traditions that works to educate, organize and mobilize religious communities around issues and campaigns that will improve wages, benefits, and conditions for workers, and give voice to workers, especially workers in low-wage jobs. The other UU on the board is Susan Leslie, UUA director for congregational advocacy and witness. Together we bring an ‘institutional’ and ‘field’ perspective to the work.

We were doing all the usual things that happen at Board meetings – reviewing programs, talking about funding (or the lack thereof) and charting the course ahead – when we heard that the workers at Republic Windows and Doors had asked us to come down to their plant to pray with them.

I can understand why those folks might be in a praying mood.

About a week ago the owners of their company announced that they were closing their doors for good, saying that orders for doors and windows had dropped off. They gave their two hundred and fifty employees just three days notice – even though the law requires sixty. They also withheld the pay the workers had already earned, over a million dollars worth, I am told.

The company claimed they couldn’t pay the workers because their bank, Bank of America, refused to extend them any more credit. Talk about adding insult to injury – this is the very same Bank of America that had just been given 25 billion dollars of taxpayer bailout money!

Let’s take a quick look at the scoreboard:

  • Republic Windows and Doors = closes Chicago location, doesn’t pay workers, buys new factory in Iowa where they won’t have to pay workers fair wages and benefits.
  • Bank of America = receives 25 BILLION dollar bailout, paid for by the American people.
  • Republic Employees = fired with three days notice and have their wages stolen three weeks before Christmas!

Enough was enough.

The workers occupied the plant. Following the example of the famous autoworker strike of 1936, the workers of Republic Windows and Doors simply sat down and refused to move!

They’d already been there for five days by the time we went to pray with them. They “work” in eight hour shifts, and are very well-organized, with cleaning crews, food crews and everything else they need to stay in there indefinitely. Nobody gets in or out except them – and, on this occasion – us.

We arrived at the plant and stepped out into a very cold grey rain that got even colder after you’d been standing in it for a while. There were already lots of folks gathered there: union members, people of faith and other well-wishers who’d been standing in the rain and would keep on standing in the rain for as long as necessary.

We started singing, and as IWJ’s Kim Bobo led us in “This Little Light of Mine” and “We Shall Not Be Moved” the rain and the cold seemed to fade far into the background. Some of the workers came out to say hello to the crowd and an enormous cheer went up. Everyone wanted to let the workers know that no matter how alone they felt we were all right there with them.

After a brief press conference (for the few remaining press crews who had not been diverted to cover the Governor’s latest and most breathtaking act of corruption), we clergy were ushered inside the plant.

The first thing I noticed was a plain white sign that said, “5 Days and Still Strong!” written on it in black magic marker – and then we were whisked in through the double doors leading into the plant proper.

Republic’s production floor is a big one any day, but with all the machines shut down it seemed even bigger, emptier and more cavernous. But it was warm and bright after the relentless chill outside – at least nobody had cut the power on them yet.
We all went our own ways, shaking hands and talking with the workers, many of whom didn’t have a ton of English but held out hands warmly and said, God bless you…God bless you…God bless you.” I speak plenty of English, but those were pretty much the only words I could find too.

In movies heroes are always portrayed as being special somehow – brilliant, powerful, beautiful, fearless, larger than life – but that’s not how life really is. The heroes I have been fortunate enough to meet in my life are never like that – they are always so normal. So ordinary. Just…people, like anyone else.
And those are exactly the kind of heroes I met on Republic’s factory floor. Just ordinary folks. And they were far from fearless, in their eyes and in their hands I could feel anxiety and fear as well as hope – and it was the hope that kept them going in spite of everything. Courageous people are not those who feel no fear (those people are fools), but those who keep on in spite of their fear – and those are the people I met in Republic – truly courageous people.

They are just ordinary people, the kind of people I might not even notice on a crowded sidewalk – unless they were clearing up my dishes at a restaurant or cleaning my hotel room. And this is my loss.

Ordinary people. But there they were, a couple hundred folks, mostly Latino and African American – occupying their factory and refusing to budge. And they aren’t just doing it for themselves – just to get what they are owed. It was so clear, visiting with them, that they understand themselves to be taking a stand for everybody! They are standing up for everybody who gets treated like dirt, whose wages are stolen and whose rights are denied. They are standing up against a system that bails out millionaires while families lose their homes and children go to bed hungry. What an incredible gift they are giving.

The workers moved together, into the center of the circle formed by we clergy. We laid our hands upon them and prayed. Some of the prayer was spontaneous and aloud – and much of it was silent.

I will always remember the texture of the fleece and t-shirts under my hands, and the human warmth beneath that. I will always remember the prayers – of courage, hope, love and healing – I will always remember the sound of breathing and the taste of tears. Words cannot possibly describe what happened in that little circle, but I will never forget what that inexpressible something felt like. We were together in that moment – and our circle was so much bigger than we were – somehow expanding to include all those who stood outside in the rain… and even farther than that…the circle stretched even farther than that…. and with such warmth and love and connectedness flowing through my body I opened my eyes and, through my own tears, saw that almost every face was wet.

This, I thought, is what is possible for us! These are my sisters and brothers, every single one of them. In that moment it was impossible to imagine letting harm come to them, to these good, brave – ordinary people!

I do not know what will happen now. I know that negotiations continue. I am optimistic that, at the very least, these workers will get the pay that was stolen from them. But is that enough?

What the workers at Republic want is not just a paycheck – they want their jobs! Good, decent, reliable jobs. They want to go to work every morning and build windows and doors. They want to buy Christmas presents for their kids and to know where they will be living next month. They want to work hard, to be treated with respect and to know that everything will be okay.

Is that so much to ask?

I don’t know how things will work out for those workers – those heroes – I prayed with yesterday in Chicago, but I do know this. They are not alone. How many workers, how many factories, how many children, how many hopes and dreams and futures hang in the balance in these troubled times?

Millions.

And so as far as I am concerned, any conversation about bailouts that does not include provisions for the ordinary heroes all around us is unconscionable, unjust, and downright sinful. We must do everything in our power to support our sisters and brothers at Republic Windows and Doors – and everywhere else our people need us.

The one thing those folks needed to hear from us more than anything is that they are not alone – and that’s what we told them. Now we need to prove it, come what may.
See Interfaith Worker Justice to learn more about this struggle and how you can support these workers and the faith community’s partnership with them.

Read There is Power in Union (PDF): A UU Guide to Worker Justice, by Rev. Aaron McEmrys.

More information:
UUA January Action of the Month: Living Wage
UUA Resources for Living Wage
UUA Resources for Immigrant Rights
Interfaith Worker Justice Report and photos!

Interfaith Action on Worker Justice

If you read our blog on December 2nd, then you already know that Subway recently agreed to work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in making sure that the tomato pickers of Immokalee, Florida, are paid fair wages.

But I learned something new about the agreement a few days later, when I met up with some members of the CIW as they passed through DC on a tour to promote their campaign for fair food. They told me that a Unitarian Universalist minister had been present at the Subway-CIW agreement! Take a look at the photo below:

The woman in the blue flower print dress on the left is UU minister Rev. Lucy Hitchcock Seck, Board Member of Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economic Community as well as South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice.

Rev. Hitchcock Seck became involved with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers through her work with South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice, and also through the CIW’s outreach to faith groups.

The CIW relies on the support of faith groups not just in Florida, but across the country, who care about workers rights and ethical eating. Visit the CIW’s website or email info [at] interfaithact.org for information about how your congregation can get involved. Participate in their postcard campaign as they urge Chipotle to follow Subway’s lead.

“The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is to be commended for its persistent and inspired work to improve the labor rights, restore the dignity and livelihood of the farm workers who pick our crops, and eliminate farm slavery. The delegation pictured, which included workers, CIW organizers, clergy and laity from South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice and other supporters, is representative of the many who helped to convince the corporate executives of Subway to be part of this growing fast-food industry support of justice for those who supply their tomatoes. Please join our coalition of supporters of fair food! This is a deeply religious issue of compassion and justice. “

–Rev. Lucy Hitchcock Seck

Rev. Hitchcock Seck is also on the taskforce for one of the UUA’s current Congregational Study Action Issues, Ethical Eating. For more information, see the UUA’s page on Ethical Eating.

Help the UU churches of New Orleans rebuild – Give to GNOUU

In August of 2005, flood waters from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita filled the homes and worship spaces of hundreds of Unitarian Universalists in the New Orleans area.

Three years later, repairs to First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans are still incomplete.

North Shore Unitarian Universalist Society needs funding to minister to affected members and re-grow their membership.

And in August, Community Church of New Orleans was forced to raze the remnants of their building due to revised FEMA regulations. Now the Community Church will have to rebuild their worship space from the ground up.

These three congregations have joined together to form Greater New Orleans Unitarian Universalists, GNOUU–pronounced “guh-new”). GNOUU’s goal is to raise 2.7 million dollars over the next three years to support the rebuilding of their churches and ministries. Currently, they are over 200,000 dollars short of reaching the first million.

This holiday season, please remember our extended UU family in the Gulf Coast, and show the kind of support that you would like to receive if your congregation was struck by disaster.

Make a donation to GNOUU in honor of a family member or a church friend, or challenge yourself to donate a certain amount each month and set up a recurring donation.

If you can’t afford to give a financial gift, consider participating in a service trip with The Rebirth Center, a volunteer service project stewarded by GNOUU.

Photo from http://communitychurchuu.org

Breaking News: Subway agrees to work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Just this morning, Subway agreed to work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to provide fair wages for the tomato pickers of Immokalee, Florida! Check out the CIW website to see a photo of Subway and CIW delegations reaching an agreement.

Subway, the biggest fast-food buyer of Florida tomatoes, was the target of a successful postcard campaign coordinated by the CIW to urge them to pay just wages. But the postcard campaign’s second target, Chipotle, is still holding out. Take a look at our November post for instructions on how to participate in the postcard campaign to urge Chipotle to join with Burger King, Yum! Brands, McDonald’s, Whole Foods, and now Subway in supporting tomato pickers.

Congratulations, CIW!

Photo credit to Kevin Saff, Creative Commons.

Send a postcard to Subway and Chipotle on behalf of Florida farmworkers

Send an email to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers at workers [at] ciw-online [dot] org to request postcards to mail to the CEOs of Subway and Chipotle!

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) has been fighting for justice for the tomato pickers of Florida since 1993. They have achieved enormous victories in forging partnerships with Taco Bell and Burger King, which have agreed to pay tomato pickers a penny more per pound of tomatoes.

A penny more per pound isn’t much for a giant fast food corporation, but to a Florida tomato picker, it can make the difference between exploitation and dignity.

Unfortunately, both Subway and Chipotle have so far refused to cooperate with the CIW. If you would like to add your voice to the call for these companies to pay a just wage, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers will send you postcards free of charge to mail to the company CEOs.

We requested a dozen postcards for the UUA Washington Office, and they arrived just a few days later. Alex, Grace, Kat, Adam and I have added our signatures, addresses, and personal messages, and are planning to drop them in the mail this afternoon.

Below is an excerpt from the printed message on the postcard to Mr. Fred Deluca, CEO of Subway:

Tomato pickers are among this country’s most exploited workers: they earn sub-poverty wages, have no right to form unions or to benefits of any kind, and have not received a significant raise in 30 years. At the current rate, tomato pickers must harvest over TWO AND A HALF TONS of tomatoes just to earn the equivalent of minimum wage for a 10-hour workday. In the most extreme cases, workers are held in modern-day slavery and forced to work against their will.

. . . After eight years of the CIW’s campaign–and the very public commitment of four leading food retailers to the principles of Fair Food–Subway can no longer claim ignorance of these problems, nor say that their solution is not possible.

To request your own postcards to send, send an email to workers [at] ciw-online [dot] org. Remember to include your address and how many copies of each postcard (Subway and/or Chipotle) you would like to receive.

(If you email photos of your postcards to la_racialjustice [at] uua [dot] org, we’ll post them! Be sure to cover up your home address if you send us photos).

Trouble the Water brings Katrina survivors’ story to big screen

Sunday night I went to the theatre to see Trouble the Water, a new film by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal. Lessin and Deal produced Bowling for Columbine, and directed and produced Fahrenheit 9/11. But Trouble the Water is different from both of these: It spends more time zoomed in on the subjects of the film–Kimberly and Scott Roberts, a young, married black couple, and their neighbors and family–and doesn’t worry as much about hitting the audience over the head with the political implications of each setback they experience. And Kimberly and Scott do experience a number of setbacks.

The film begins with footage recorded by Kimberly before and directly after Hurricane Katrina hit. A lot of the shots gave me the same queasy feeling that watching The Blair Witch Project from the front row gave me a decade ago.

Through the bumpiness and the blurriness, the movie gives insight into what people were feeling when Katrina landed. Kimberly interviews her neighbors before the storm hits, and later records the water rising. She turns the camera on when she and her family are trapped in the attic, and later films a neighbor setting out to rescue folks from their houses.

Some reviewers felt that the rest of the movie paled in comparison to the storm at the beginning. But it was the story of putting life back together afterwards that, for me, was the most thought-provoking.

After the storm, someone else takes over filming, and we see the Roberts at a Red Cross shelter, trying to track down their relief money to start over. I won’t give away what happens from there, but I will say that the ending is a little more sweet than it is bitter–but just barely. You wind up feeling pretty confident that Kimberly and Scott are going to make it, but the amount of injustice surrounding their experience is almost overwhelming.

The film is an excellent piece to spark conversations on poverty, race, the media, family, the criminal justice system, government responsibility . . . the list goes on. With a running time just around an hour and a half, this is a great movie to spend an evening watching and discussing in a group.

Trouble the Water‘s website also offers a great assembly of organizations rebuilding and offering relief in the Gulf. For some behind-the-scenes information, check out an August 22nd Democracy Now interview with producers Lessin and Deal, by Amy Goodman.