Brandon S. Castro

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About Brandon S. Castro

Brandon spends most of his time thinking about food, and the rest of his time thinking about how New Jersey could be a better, kinder place to live. Organizer, workshop facilitator, and chronic nerd for working class activism.

HPAE Runaway Inequality Trainings

Working people can't seem to get ahead. As we watch the news, organize and engage around issues in our communities, it becomes more apparent that we are operating in a rigged economy, which works for a privileged few. Unfortunately, Wall Street's power and influence thwarts progress on our most basic needs, on issues like public health, environmental protection, workers' rights, and civil rights. Join Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE), Public Need over Corporate Greed, and the NJ Work Environment Council to learn about the horrific reality of runaway  inequality and how it’s gotten so bad. Engage in a discussion on state based policies that can help us fight back against Wall Street’s influence on our politics and create an economy that values people over profit! Parking will be available at venue. Lunch will be served. Two sessions are being offered, free to attend, but please register! Wednesday, November 15 10am-4pm Labor Education Center 50 Labor Center Way New Brunswick, NJ 08901 Register Saturday, November 18 10am-4pm Labor Education Center 50 Labor Center Way New Brunswick, NJ 08901 Register Download a Flyer

By |2017-10-13T15:42:48-04:00October 13th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on HPAE Runaway Inequality Trainings

Apply Now to Help Build a Movement!

Working people can’t seem to get ahead. As we watch the news, engage in our communities, and organize around our respective issues, it becomes more and more apparent that we are operating in a rigged economy, which works for the privileged few. Wall Street’s power and influence continues to thwart progress on our most basic needs, on issues like public health, environmental protection, workers’ rights, and civil rights. The most fundamental component of our democracy, our ability to organize and successfully advocate for our needs, has been undermined. Join us on September 29th and 30th at NJEA Headquarters in Trenton (180 W. State Street) to learn how our economy, and our democracy, have been strip-mined by financial institutions. This intensive training will involve materials developed by Les Leopold, author of Runaway Inequality and director of The Labor Institute. We’ve already trained 45 educators, who are working across Jersey to share this content within their organizations, spreading the word to fellow activists. Join the discussion on direct actions that we can take to address the fundamental inequalities in our system. Space is limited to 20 participants.  Apply now for the Public Need over Corporate Greed Trainer Apprenticeship Program and help create [...]

By |2017-08-01T17:25:44-04:00August 1st, 2017|Highlights|Comments Off on Apply Now to Help Build a Movement!

Public Bank Event: Friday, May 5

As the gross inequality between the top 1/10th of 1% and ordinary working people worsens, our state and municipal governments often turn to privatization to combat budget shortfalls due to shrinking tax bases. These efforts often put control of public services in disadvantaged neighborhoods into the hands of corporations, and only offer a short-term fix for municipal and state budgets. These issues are exacerbated as Wall Street banks extract large fees from our state government, little of which is reinvested back into the state of New Jersey. Join LEARN, in partnership with the Work Environment Council and the Public Need over Corporate Greed campaign, to learn about a potential solution to this economic spiral: public banking. In this workshop, Walt McRee, chair of the Public Banking Institute, and Joan Bartl, state coordinator, two nationally-recognized experts and advocates of public banking, will review the history and theory of state banking, and detail the benefits and risks of establishing a public bank in New Jersey. If you want to understand what money is, how banks work, and how a state bank might improve the lives of all New Jerseyans, this workshop is for you. The event will be held Friday, May 5th from [...]

By |2017-04-26T16:19:34-04:00April 26th, 2017|Highlights|Comments Off on Public Bank Event: Friday, May 5

Public Need Over Corporate Greed Training

The Public Need over Corporate Greed campaign presumes that fundamental social change, in New Jersey and elsewhere, can only be achieved if workers, communities, and environmental organizations join forces to combat big moneyed special interests and corporate power. We are excited to announce that we have now trained 45 trainers who are prepared to educate other activists on the economic strip mining of our economy, and how corporations and Wall Street firms have robbed our country, state, communities, and workplaces. Together, we are prepared to shine a spotlight, and make clear the complex economics that political elites would prefer be kept muddled and unclear. Understanding finance and how it affects us is more important now than ever, as we move into an era in which industry executives and Wall Street financiers are leading our federal agencies and setting national policy. If you wish to arrange a training session on financialization and how it affects your community, please contact campaign organizer Brandon Castro. We don't yet have a date set, but we're exploring another train-the-trainer session, possibly this summer. If interested, please complete the application below. Trainer Apprenticeship Application Public Need Over Corporate Greed

By |2017-03-22T17:27:48-04:00March 22nd, 2017|Highlights|Comments Off on Public Need Over Corporate Greed Training

Extreme Inequality in NJ

As many Americans are painfully aware, income inequality in the United States today is extreme and growing exponentially. In fact, as of 2014, the top CEOs takes home 844 times what the average worker makes. And New Jersey is no stranger to the effects of runaway inequality, according to a recent story on WNYC, being home to some of the wealthiest and some of the poorest individuals in the country. This extreme distribution of wealth is no accident, with extreme income disparity being more common in urban centers, and with income inequality (according to the Gini index, a frequently used measure for inequality) being lower between 2006-2010, a period immediately preceding the great recession. “The statewide rise in New Jersey income inequality is also reflected in the data for individual counties, which all except Cape May saw upticks in their Gini index scores.”   Meanwhile, Governor Christie has worked to cut taxes and fees for corporations, plunder the state budget, and attempted to cut himself a juicy book deal. Extreme income inequality is no accident; it occurs when economic and corporate elites work together to rig an economy against ordinary, working people. While Wall Street [...]

By |2017-02-24T17:57:03-05:00February 24th, 2017|Highlights|Comments Off on Extreme Inequality in NJ

Seeking: Movement Builders

Congratulations to the first round of trainers to complete the Public Need over Corporate Greed trainer apprenticeship program! Over the course of two days, more than 30 participants discussed movement building, the economics of both social and income inequality, and the concrete steps we can take to build a more equitable economy which works for everyone, not just big banks and Wall Street firms. During the intensive program, led by Les Leopold, author of Runaway Inequality and director of The Labor Institute, activists engaged in a robust conversation on the powerful interests that keep us organizing on the defensive. One of the key takeaways: until we address the structural issues in our system, which allow so few to have so much power and influence, we will continue to nibble at the edges, to be told there “just isn’t enough money” to provide a clean, safe environment, and good jobs. We are already planning our second trainer apprenticeship sessions, which will be held March 3rd and 4th in Trenton. We need your passion, your voice, and your action, but space is limited to 20 participants. Join us; understand what is happening to our economy and learn how you can facilitate a discussion about [...]

By |2017-02-07T01:11:15-05:00February 6th, 2017|Highlights|Comments Off on Seeking: Movement Builders

Let’s Build A Movement

Working people can’t seem to get ahead. As we watch the news, engage in our communities, and organize around our respective issues, it becomes more and more apparent that we are operating in a rigged economy, which works for a privileged few. Wall Street’s power and influence continues to thwart progress on our most basic needs, on issues like public health, environmental protection, workers’ rights, and civil rights. The most fundamental component of our democracy, our ability to organize and successfully advocate for our needs, has been undermined. Join us on February 3rd and 4th at the Rutgers Labor Education Center in New Brunswick(50 Labor Center Way) to learn how our economy, and our democracy have been strip-mined by financial institutions. This intensive training will be led by Les Leopold, author of Runaway Inequality and director of The Labor Institute. Join a discussion on direct actions that we can take to address the fundamental inequalities in our system. Space is limited to 20 participants. Apply now for the Public Need over Corporate Greed Trainer Apprenticeship Program and help create an economy that works for everyone.     Learn More Apply Today

By |2017-01-06T02:01:27-05:00January 5th, 2017|Highlights|Comments Off on Let’s Build A Movement

Strengthening Protections for Workers Against Wage Theft

Since 1986, the Work Environment Council of New Jersey has fought for safe, secure jobs and a healthy sustainable environment. We’ve spent years working to link workers, communities, and environmental activists through training, grassroots organizing, and policy campaigns. First and foremost, WEC is concerned with public health and the well-being of workers. But it’s important that while we maintain a broad vision in defining public health, that we address the economic policy that keeps working people and communities in danger. That’s one reason why WEC supports A862, a bill which strengthens protections for workers against wage theft. The bill, which passed out of the Assembly Labor Committee on December 12, would deter employers from committing wage theft by strengthening penalties, increasing the amount of time a worker has to file a claim, protecting workers who file claims from retaliation, and by holding employers who use subcontractors accountable. How is wage theft connected to public health, though? Aren’t wages and labor economic practices a separate issue from public health? In fact, an economy that is dependent on wage theft and low wages is extremely damaging to public wellbeing. When a family worries about how they will pay for groceries, their health is [...]

By |2016-12-15T18:38:35-05:00December 14th, 2016|Highlights|Comments Off on Strengthening Protections for Workers Against Wage Theft

What Is An Ideal Wage Gap?

According to public opinion polls, Americans typically believe a good pay ratio is 7 to 1. In other words, the top paid CEO in the United States should make 7 times what the average worker makes. And yet the American reality is much different. In fact, the top paid CEOs in the United States make roughly 844 times what the average worker makes. This stunning statistic represents the antithesis of the American dream: the idea that if someone works hard then they deserve financial security; it also belies the myth that as the pool of wealth increases, all boats rise. These outrageously disparate numbers indicate a broken economy, engineered by the top 1/10th of the 1% wealthiest Americans, which has fostered a destructive and amoral distribution of wealth. In a move to address the extreme and corrupt distribution of wealth, the city council of Portland, Oregon passed a tax this Wednesday on companies in which the top-ranked executives make more than 100 times the median pay of their average workers. In doing so, the city of Portland has shown it is willing to take steps to reverse the negative effects that extreme income inequality has on its residents. [...]

By |2016-12-14T00:23:26-05:00December 13th, 2016|Highlights|Comments Off on What Is An Ideal Wage Gap?

Why Are Manufacturing Jobs Really Leaving The US?

It’s no secret that many of the international trade deals made by the United States have hurt workers both here and abroad. Several political leaders have targeted deals like NAFTA, and identified them as the source of many labor issues, including diminished safety and environmental regulations, and a horrific race to the bottom for wages. There is more to this story, however, and trade deals which enable international mobility for corporations are only a symptom of a much more sinister problem. In an article originally published on the Huffington Post, Les Leopold, author of Runaway Inequality, investigated the root cause of declining wages, lax labor regulations and fleeing jobs. After an SEC rule change in 1982, hedge fund and private equity investors were incentivized to siphon as much wealth from companies they invest in as possible, so that they could then buy back its stock. This artificially inflates the value of shares and gives hedge managers and private equity managers an instant windfall. “In 1970, before stock buybacks became the norm, the pay gap between the top CEOs and the average worker was $45 to $1. Today it is an incomprehensible $844 to $1. So there’s a co-dependency between [...]

By |2016-11-22T11:01:38-05:00November 21st, 2016|Highlights|Comments Off on Why Are Manufacturing Jobs Really Leaving The US?
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