Civic Forum sets up October push focusing on closing the income gap

Income Inequality: Everybody’s talking about it. Every day a new report documents the growing gap between the rich and the middle class and the working poor. What’s going on here? What are the roots of the income inequality in our country? Is it capitalism? Structural racism? Hard-wired misogyny? Darwinism?  

What can any individual do about the situation? Are there specific ways that ordinary, good-hearted residents can help develop a plan to control development in their own neighborhoods and in the city by adopting and enforcing a “good jobs and community benefit” standard? Are there ways to protect renters, homeowners, low-wage workers, immigrants, and many others affected by the displacement crisis and gentrification? Are there ways to win $15-an-hour wages for fast-food, big-box retail, and other service workers? Are there ways to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund critical public programs?  
 The answer is a resounding “yes.”

Come and hear all about the October activities that will be focusing on closing the income gap and protecting those harmed by it at the Dorchester Civic Forum scheduled for next Friday, Oct.2, in the historic Meeting House Hall at 10 Parish St.

At the event, community leaders will describe several specific ways residents can participate in the mission: The Fight for $15 campaign for fast-food workers, big-box retail, and service workers; the Boston Jobs Coalition’s fight for “good jobs standards” for job quality and access to construction and permanent jobs and enforcement of those standards; the Right to Remain Assembly Coalition’s fight for the Just Cause Eviction Bill and other ways to protect residents and businesses affected by the by displacement crisis and gentrification; and the Raise Up Coalition’s campaign of collecting signatures for a ballot question creating an additional tax of four percentage points on annual income above one million dollars and dedicating revenues to public education and public transportation.

Mark Erlich, treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, elected officials from the city and state, and representatives from the mayor’s office, among others, will be on hand as resources for participants.

Learn about the Right to Remain Coalition’s citywide assembly on Oct. 3 that will unite hundreds of residents connected to national gatherings that are addressing displacement.  The Right to Remain Coalition, anchored by Right to the City Boston and Boston Tenant Coalition, will bring together renters, homeowners, low-wage workers, immigrants, and many others affected by the displacement crisis resulting from Boston’s status as the most rapidly gentrifying city. They will weave together a variety of housing, zoning, and transit policies that our communities are actively fighting for and will particularly focus on the struggle for a Just Cause Eviction law. The assembly starts at 9:30 a.m. at the Vietnamese American Community Center at 42 Charles St. After lunch, there will be a collective action starting at 1 p.m. at the Fields Corner T Stop.
The Boston Jobs Coalition’s Roxbury Campaign won “good jobs standards” for both construction and permanent jobs for upcoming master plan parcels in Roxbury.  That fight is now moving to other neighborhoods. On Mon., Oct. 5, at 6 p.m. at the Dudley Library, it will be to the Roxbury Strategic Master Plan Oversight Committee meeting to demand enforcement of the “good jobs standards” already voted. 

The Fight for $15 will urge folks to communicate their support to the governor and their own elected officials at the Oct. 13 hearing at the State House for bill filed by Sen. Dan Wolf and Rep. Steven Utrino: An act to establish a living wage for employees of big box retail and quick service fast food chains that will require these corporations to pay their employees at least $15 an hour by 2018. This higher wage would apply only to large corporations with more than 100 employees, and be phased in over three years.

Finally, all during October, the Raise Up Campaign will be asking folks from all over the state to help collect certified signatures from at least 64,750 registered voters to send the Fair Share Constitutional Amendment, which would raise $1.3 billion for education and transportation from new taxes on millionaires. Once the signatures are gathered and certified, the amendment would be presented to a joint session of the Legislature. It would have to be approved by 25 percent of the sitting legislators (50 votes) before the end of formal sessions on July 31, 2016. If approved, the petition would then need a second approval by 25 percent of legislators in a joint session before the end of formal sessions on July 31, 2018, to gain a place on the ballot on November 6, 2018.

The Dorchester Civic Forum is presented in partnership by First Parish Dorchester and the Bowdoin Geneva Residents Association. There is no admission fee and coffee and tea will be provided. A plate of snacks would be welcomed from those who can. The Forum will end promptly at 9 p.m. Questions can be emailed to Judy Meredith at or Jenn Cartee at