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Do an EXTRA Good Deed Today

columbia_ad_2.jpgJust about everyone at Firedoglake (except maybe for the occasional troll) does good deeds everyday—just getting the kids dressed and off to school, or not cutting off an aggressive driver in traffic (who really deserves it), is a deed well done.

At the risk of sounding like a Pollyanna (those who know me would say there’s really no risk there), I want to offer a few options all of us can do—easily and quickly—to make today an EXTRA good deed day. Pick one or all—and have fun.

** Tell Congress to vote ‘NO’ on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. As Jane wrote so well here on Tuesday, Bush and his surrogate mouthpiece George Will are hot for Congress to pass the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which would give special trade preferences to a government that has done little to prevent or prosecute the murders of literally thousands of trade unionists. Seventeen have been murdered so far this year—and roughly 2,550 since 1986. The government has successfully prosecuted less than 3 percent of these cases. We may have good news here later today. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pushing for a vote that would take the Colombia deal out of "Fast Track." Under Fast Track, Congress has 90 legislative days to pass it. If removed from the Fast Track provisions, the bill does not have to be voted on anytime soon. But even so, as long as the bill is in the House, our House representatives need to hear from all of us. Click here to send a message to your representative.

** Protest China’s workers’ and human rights abuse. Couldn’t be in San Francisco to protest during the Olympic torch event? There’s still an option to protest against the Beijing government’s lack of workers’ rights and human rights in China. Play Fair 2008 has launched “Catch the Flame,” where we can send a message to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that Olympic products must be made in safe conditions and workers must be paid a fair wage. It’s an electronic relay race in which each person who signs up is able to help move an electronic torch toward Beijing and add comments supporting workers’ rights. Click here to join the electronic relay race.

** Sign a petition to end modern-day slavery in the United States. Farm workers who pick tomatoes for the U.S. fast-food industry are among this country’s most exploited workers. They sometimes are held against their will, beaten and forced to work for little or no pay. Last year, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) won a groundbreaking agreement with McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant chain. The fast-food giant agreed to pay a penny more per pound to workers harvesting tomatoes, which means the workers get 72 cents to 77 cents for every 32-pound bucket of tomatoes they pick, up from 40 cents to 45 cents. But Burger King, the world’s second-largest hamburger chain, has rejected working with the CIW to improve farm workers’ wages and conditions. Instead, it has joined with extreme conservatives and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange to fight the agreements. In fact, to discourage the growers from paying a mere penny more per pound, the growers exchange has threatened to impose a $100,000 fine on any grower that participates in the agreements. CIW is seeking 1 million people to sign a petition demanding that Burger King and food industry leaders improve wages for workers who pick tomatoes and help eliminate slave labor-like conditions and human rights abuses from Florida’s fields. Sign it here.

** Write a fast letter to your local newspaper editor on John McCain’s anti-working family record. Sen. McCain’s voting record on jobs, the economy, health care, retirement security, workers’ rights—you name it—ain’t good for any of us. We all know it, but get more details here and send a letter to the editor via our handy tool here and/or join the union movement’s McCain Revealed Rapid Action Team here.

** Sign a petition to create a national holiday on César Chávez’s birthday. Thirteen states already celebrate the birthday of the late César Chávez, one of the most inspirational union and human rights leaders of the 20th century. Members of the union movement, in partnership with the César Chávez National Holiday coalition, are urging Congress to establish Chávez’s March 31 birthday as a national holiday.

** Support the freedom to form unions. The entire union movement is seeking to collect 1 million signatures in support of passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would level the playing field for workers seeking to join unions. By allowing more workers to freely join unions and bargain with their employers, the Employee Free Choice Act will help rebuild the middle class by expanding health care, improving retirement security and raising the standard of living for America’s working families. We will present the cards to the new president and Congress next year, urging them to enact the legislation. Sign the card here.

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Tula Connell

Tula Connell