April 15th, 2014

COA Weekly Update // Partners, Workers, “After Tiller”

Choice Chattanooga: After Tiller


Choice Chattanooga, a grassroots organization dedicated to reproductive justice and gender equality in the Chattanooga area, is featuring a showing of After Tiller. After Tiller is a 2013 documentary which follows the four remaining abortion doctors in the United States who openly offer to perform late-term abortions. The film follows them in the wake of the 2009 murder of doctor George Tiller. Choice Chattanooga has planned this event for Thursday, May 22.

The history of Chattanooga’s women’s health clinics is marked with same the reactionary, oppressive politics of the conservative right which has pushed the right of reproductive choice further and further back across the United States.  It is Choice Chattanooga’s current goals to obtaining a women’s health clinic in Chattanooga, raise awareness about as well as working to defeat the Anti-Choice Amendment 1 at the ballot this fall, educating our community about women’s health and rights, and otherwise supporting and furthering women’s rights in the Chattanooga area.

Choice Chattanooga’s Screening of After Tiller

Thursday, May 22, 2014
7:30-9:30 PM

Barking Legs Theater
1307 Dodds Avenue, Chattanooga, TN 37404

Facebook Event:
Click HERE

Chattanooga for Workers: Solidarity Fundraiser for Injured VW Workers


The UAW has served subpoenas to Gov. Bill Haslam, Senator Bob Corker, and others after evidence of their role in interference to the 2014 VW union vote.

While anti-union politicians and operatives bicker at the capital, it is on the ground at VW that the reality of labor without representation has already taken its toll on Chattanooga’s workers.

According to one local worker on the assembly line floor at the Chattanooga Volkswagen factory, “everyone who works here is injured.”

Chattanooga for Workers stands with the workers of the Volkswagen factory. Due to the previous neutrality agreement between the United Auto Workers and Volkswagen, pro-union workers that were injured on the job, and later retaliated against by American management, held back from speaking out about the serious health and safety issues they are facing in our local plant. But the reality which anti-union laborers wish to hide is that Chattanooga workers are leaving the VW factory everyday in pain, with soreness, numbness, and even more serious injuries.

Two such workers are Ed Hunter and Lon Gravett, who worked in the factory for years until they were both seriously injured on the job. Now, they both face rising medical bills with no way to pay them. This event, hosted by Chattanooga for Workers, is a community fundraiser to raise money for two local workers and their families and to provide an opportunity for our union brothers and sisters, non-union working families, concerned citizens, people of faith, political officials, and the media to come together and listen to the stories of our local workers in their own words.

Solidarity Fundraiser for Injured VW Workers

Friday, April 18th, 2014
6:00 PM-9:00 PM


St. Marks United Methodist Church,
701 Mississippi Ave
Chattanooga, TN 37405

Facebook Event:
Click HERE

Tea Party-backed PAC  Begins Campaign Against Domestic Partner’s Benefits


Mark West and his Tea Party affiliated PAC “CGAT” have begun their fight against the Domestic Partner’s Benefits ordinance passed in 2013 by the Chattanooga City Council.

COA firmly believes that equal work means equal benefits for LGBTQ+ persons as well as all other city workers in domestic partnerships.

More info about the Domestic Partner’s Benefit ordinance may be found HERE.

April 9th, 2014

Choice Chattanooga: April Meeting

Choice Chattanooga: April Meeting

Our friends at Choice Chattanooga are hosting their April meeting this upcoming Monday, April 14th from 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM and you are invited!

Choice Chattanooga is a grassroots organization dedicated to reproductive justice and women’s rights in the Chattanooga area. Current goals include obtaining a women’s health clinic in Chattanooga, raising awareness about and eventually defeating the Anti-Choice Amendment 1 at the ballot this fall, educating our community about women’s health and rights, and otherwise supporting and furthering women’s rights in the Chattanooga area.

This will be the second meeting of Choice Chattanooga. For those of you who were unable to attend the inaugural meeting, it’s not too late to get involved!

If you are curious about what is on the agenda for this meeting or you have any other questions you can email us atinfo@choicechatt.org

Choice Chattanooga April Meeting

Monday, April 14th
7:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Lindsay Street Hall
901 Lindsay Street
Chattanooga, TN

Facebook Event:
Click HERE

April 8th, 2014

Advancing LGBTQ+ Rights at UTC — Spectrum’s 2014 Fundraiser!

Advancing LGBTQ+ Rights at UTC — Spectrum’s 2014 Fundraiser!


Chattanooga Organized for Action is beyond proud of Spectrum - our local university’s LGBTQ+ organization. Spectrum is grassroots to the core and are making positive changes and advancements for the rights of LGBTQ+ people at UTC. That’s why COA is getting the word out about their 2014 Fundraiser! 

Let’s stand behind our college students as they promote equality and fairness at UTC. You can make a donation to Spectrum by clicking HERE.

Who is Spectrum?

Spectrum is the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s LGBTQ+ organization! 

We work to provide a positive and affirming safe-space for LGBTQ+ college students and allies in Chattanooga, TN. We are also engaged in activism efforts to ensure that UTC will one day be as LGBTQ+ friendly as we are. 

We have grown exponentially in the last couple of years and our old budgeting systems are not cutting it. We are now one of the largest organizations on campus (excluding Greeklife and Religious organizations) but we do not receive adequate SGA-funding comparable to similarly-sized organizations. 

In part, we were able to grow so large due to a gift-grand which funded Spectrum from 2013 until about now. 

With that funding, Spectrum has been able to institute all sorts of new programming including the invitation of speakers on campus such as Everyone is Gay in fall of last year. 


Pictured: The Spectrum Executive Board with Everyone is Gay!

We have also have worked to bring safe queer sex education through our allies at Chattanooga CARES. In partnership with the UTC Counseling Center, Spectrum also created a peer counseling group focused on LGBTQ+ college students called ‘Talk It Out’.

These programs stand alongside our Rainbow Shield protests of homophobic conservative speakers, our ability to assist UTC students attending LGBTQ+ conferences, our trip to confront homophobic politicians on the Senate Education Committee in Nashville, and many other events and programs. 

We are proud to have been able to bring so much, in such a short time, to UTC’s campus. 

Now, in order to maintain our momentum, we would like to ask your assistance for our 2014/2015 operative costs.


Pictured: Spectrum’s Rainbow Shield

What Does Spectrum Need?

We don’t need too much! Here is a breakdown of what we will need going into the next semester

  • A Printer/Copier: Spectrum has too long been at the mercy of the Lupton Library printing costs, particularly for the cost for color images. We need to get a large amount of brochures and other rhetoric into the UTC general population. If we were to have our own printer (to be kept on campus in a space provided by an ally) then this would make the printing process much easy. Estimated cost: $150
  • A Professionally-made Banner: A banner with our Spectrum logo which would be used for our booth at the UTC Org Fairs and our events throughout the year such as National Coming Out Day. Estimated cost: $150-200 dollars
  • Spectrum Swag: We’d like to go into the 2014/2015 year with a bunch of Spectrum pens, notepads, and buttons and other things to hand out to students who attend our meetings. Estimated cost: $300 dollars
  • Other Operative Costs: These money will be put into Spectrum’s bank account to be spent on miscellaneous things to provide for the Spectrum organization fairs and first Fall 2014 meetings. This would include posters and other items. In the past, extra things have been mostly restricted to skittles and starbursts but a larger budget will enable us to think big in the years to come! Estimated cost: $150-200

Your Impact:

Spectrum members come from a lot of places. Small-town Tennessee is often not the best place to be queer or even any other sort of different. Students come to our meetings and see our booths and, you can tell, the supportive space which Spectrum provides has made a world of difference in their lives. 

Students flee situations of violence and situations of oppression to come into our campus community and, in that campus community, Spectrum has been able provide for students as safely and affirming as possible. 

We want to keep doing that! If you are able to donate towards an operative budget, it allows our organization to reach out even further to UTC students across the campus. It allows us to get bigger and better quality. By donating to the operative budget, we are able to devote what other funding we can manage toward new programming with the resident housing groups, wider community groups, and off-campus speakers.

We would like to thank you for anything that you can contribute! We find our work with Spectrum to be some of the most rewarding work in our college careers. We hope you find contributing to the organization equally as rewarding!

Make your donation to Spectrum HERE!

April 2nd, 2014

Housing for the People: Towards An Accountable Chattanooga Housing Authority

Housing for the People

What does it mean to abandon a building? What does it mean to abandon a community?  

According to the Chattanooga Housing Authority (CHA)’s five year plan, the College Hill Courts and East Lake Courts public housing communities are on the chopping block to be demolished. More specifically on the chopping block, are nearly 1,000 units of housing, many units of which are specifically devoted to homeless victims of domestic violence. Even more specifically, the homes and well-being of hundreds of vulnerable low-income families are at stake.

The potential destruction of College Hill Courts and East Lake Courts is the next phase in decades of mismanagement and incompetence on the part of the CHA. It is the next story in the very long narrative of the loss of low-income housing options in Chattanooga; it is a narrative which has seen the forced evacuation and sale of Harriet Tubman, a lack of fire drills and other safety precautions for our senior citizens, and a literal inability for residents to warm themselves in these past winter months. These incidents follow on the heels of the last decade which saw the loss of approximately 750 units of public housing.

Each of these are a failing on the part of our city and the Chattanooga Housing Authority to provide for its vulnerable, low-income residents. Each of them reflect a strong legacy of white privilege and class exploitation. The residents of public housing are sometimes elderly, sometimes disabled, sometimes single mothers. The residents of public housing are many different kinds of people. They are always disadvantaged and marginalized by institutional forces.

The loss of College Hill Courts and East Lake Courts, just as the loss of Harriet Tubman, McCallie Homes, Poss Homes, and the others before them, would be a death-blow to those historic communities. As outside forces seek to come in and make private profits off of public land (see Purpose Built Communities), we must be clear: Chattanooga’s public housing is NOT for sale.

This isn’t just a fight to save bricks and mortar - it’s a fight for the very survival of marginalized communities. 

 Towards An Accountable Housing Authority

A first step in addressing these failures to protect those low-income public and subsidized housing residents is the restructuring and remodeling of the CHA Board of Commissioners. It is a board which is too far removed from the daily struggles of its own people. With only a single resident board member, last appointed in 2007, the CHA Board too often works in the interests of Big Business instead of its low-income residents. 

One doesn’t need to look too far for an example of this. As early as the fall of 2012, CHA Board Commissioner Jim Sattler, a known ally of the Chamber of Commerce and private enterprise, was openly admitting to City Council members that he was taking advantage of his capacity as both a leader in business and a CHA Board Commissioner to tour the then unsold Harriet Tubman property to industrial developers.

Clouded by the intrigue of private enterprise, the CHA began to drift away from its mission of providing quality, affordable housing to low-income people and - instead - supported the Chamber of Commerce’s plans of light industrial development in a unanimous vote, even when former Harriet Tubman residents and other community members stressed the need for Tubman to remain affordable housing.

The People’s Coalition for Affordable Housing, a union of neighborhood association leaders, community leaders, and church leaders, has worked to represent the interests of public housing residents and relate these interests to both the CHA Board and the City Council.

At a recent City Council meeting, the People’s Coalition has made two demands to better structure the CHA board to accurately reflect the interests of public housing residents.

You can read the Coalition’s letter to the City Council by clicking HERE.

1. Resident Majority of the Board of CHA

According to the “HUD Tenant Participation and Tenant Opportunities in Public Housing" section of the Code of Federal Regulations, a minimum of one board member is required to be a public housing resident. While this is important in ensuring that there is at least a single voice which can represent the interests of the residents, it is not substantial enough to weigh the board in favor of their interests.

The residents of public housing in Chattanooga require greater and expanded representation on the Board of Commissioners of the Chattanooga Housing Authority. It is these residents who are most immediately affected by CHA’s services and competency. Given that there are members of CHA’s board who have never lived in the public housing which they are obligated to maintain and that, historically, the holders of this position have poorly and ineffectively represented the interests of the residents, it is critical to weight representation of the side of residents - especially considering how these positions have so often been misused to further agendas other than those of the residents. As it is the obligation of CHA to provide for and serve these residents, the lack of proper representation has widened the gulf between CHA and the residents they are chartered to serve.

This error in the structure of representatives on CHA’s Board has led to the decisions which are not only outside of the interests of public housing residents, but decisions which are immediately divergent from interests of residents.

In order to provide policy which accurately reflects the needs and the interests of the residents of Chattanooga’s public and subsidized housing, the People’s Coalition is calling for resident majority on the CHA’s Board.

2. Direct Election of Public Housing Residents on the CHA Board, By and For the Residents Themselves.

Listed in 24 CFR 964.420, it is stated that elections may be held for the selection of residents for recognized Housing Authorities. The current single resident board member of the CHA Board is selected solely by the appointment of the City of Chattanooga’s Mayor, subject to the approval of the City Council. This appointment process is inherently problematic. The voice which represents communities as marginalized as those restricted into public and subsidized housing should not picked by those of privilege and power. Beyond the questions of ethics, there will always be the disconnect between the Mayor’s wishes and the wishes of the communities of public housing residents.

In response to this, the People’s Coalition calls upon the CHA Board to empower its residents tovote on their own representatives. As it is the responsibility of the CHA resident board members to reflect the interests of public housing residents, so too should it be the responsibility of the board to democratically empower its residents to interact with the conditions of public housing in Chattanooga. The ability to vote on these resident board members is a first step in empowering these residents to change the material conditions which are imposed on them.

COA is proud to stand with all marginalized people as they seek to reclaim their communities and practice self-determination. We support the “Resident Board Majority” and we will stand behind The People’s Coalition for Affordable Housing in their fight to secure quality, affordable housing for low-income people in our city. 

April 1st, 2014

COA Weekly Update: “The Citizen of the Year”

COA: April 2014 Weekly Update

Ms. Gloria Griffith: Public Citizen of the Year

Ms. Gloria Griffith, during the "Not for Sale" campaign to save Chattanooga’s historic public housing communities. - Photo by Jared Story

Ms. Gloria Griffith, Elder of Renaissance Presbyterian Church and COA Board Member, was honored this week by being named the Public Citizen of the Year by the Tennessee Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). This award was the accumulation of an entire Social Work Month, characterized by NASW with the theme “All People Matter”.

All people matter. Ms. Gloria’s resolute and resonating belief in this idea has informed decades of civil and human rights work. Her contributions to the causes of social justice and her contributions to the betterment of her community are beyond number. In the Westside community, which Ms. Gloria calls home, every imposition of poverty and marginalization has been opposed with her strong and dedicated leadership. From Ms. Gloria’s history as the first interracial married black woman in Hamilton County, to her assistance to countless Westside families, to her current work with the People’s Coalition for Affordable Housing, Ms. Gloria has set a precedent for any social justice activist in the South.

COA is proud to take guidance and direction from Ms. Gloria Griffith, the NASW Public Citizen of the Year and standard to which every Chattanoogan should hold themselves.

Tennessee Average “Housing Wage” Far Above Average Wage

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has found in their  Out of Reach 2014 report that a minimum wage worker in Tennessee is forced to work 77 hours a week in order to maintain housing. The report reflects a reality that many Chattanoogans are already familiar with: that the minimum wages paid to many workers are not living wages.

This fact is critical when one acknowledges that many of the workers who help run Chattanooga and allow the city to function fluidly for so many tourists and guests are often unable to afford to live within the city’s limits. Chattanooga’s affordable housing market and availability grows smaller by the day and the fight to keep our cities’ employees in low wages is a perpetual one.

For more information on Chattanooga’s affordable housing crisis and the Affordable Housing Ordinance, the people’s solution to this crisis, feel free to check out www.chatthousing.com

You can also email COA to learn how to get involved in housing and labor justice issues. Email us at: info@chattaction.org.

"Inequality for All" with Robert Reich - Live

This Friday, Chattanooga solidarity workers and labor activists will hold a FREE Public screening of the documentary “Inequality For All” followed by a live Skype discussion with former Labor Secretary and film creator, Robert Reich.

"Inequality for All" is a 2013 documentary directed by Jacob Kornbluth. The film examines widening income inequality in the United States. It is presented by American economist, author and professor Robert Reich. Premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, it won a U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Achievement in Film-Making.

Reich distills the story through the lens of widening income inequality—currently at historic highs—and explores what effects this increasing gap has, not only on the U.S. economy, but American democracy itself. At the heart of the film is a simple proposition: What is a good society and what role does the widening income gap play in the deterioration of the nation’s economic health?

Reich served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997. In 2008, Time magazine named him one of the Ten Best Cabinet Members of the century, and The Wall Street Journal in 2008 placed him sixth on its list of the “Most Influential Business Thinkers”. He was appointed a member of President-elect Barack Obama’s economic transition advisory board.

Reich’s Skype discussion will address issues that are specific to Chattanooga, especially the need for stronger labor organizing to stem the growth of inequality and restore power to working/middle class Americans.
With the eye of labor rights in the South pointed directly at Chattanooga’s workers and families, this documentary contextualizes our struggles with the larger narrative of national economic inequality.

Please arrive early as seating is limited. Free concessions will be served.

Co-Sponsored by Move to Amend Chattanooga, SEIU Local 205, Chattanooga Labor Council, & Chattanooga for Workers.

The movie will be screened Friday, April 4th from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM at the IBEW Local #175 Union Hall located at 3922 Volunteer Drive Suite #9, Chattanooga, TN 37416 [MAP].

New Logo

Spring time is here, so we thought we’d give the COA logo a splash of color. Hope you like it!




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