When a community joins together to demand a more fair and just society, it amplifies individual voices and strengthens the cause. Community action groups—such as Mitel’s customer Metro Justice, a volunteer-based organization in Rochester, NY— play a vital role to bring voices together to drive important, lasting change.

“We’re a grassroots organization and our mission is to help achieve racial, social and economic justice through mass social movements,” says Mohini Sharma, lead organizer of Metro Justice. “We fight to put power back in the hands of everyday people across the racial spectrum.”

Metro Justice is a fixture in New York state’s social justice activism landscape and has also contributed to efforts nationwide. With a network of 1,000 volunteers, the organization has been an integral part of activism both locally and on a larger scale.

Bringing Power to the People

A native of Rochester herself, Mohini joined Metro Justice in March of 2017 as a volunteer. One of her first efforts was the “Fight for $15 and a Union” campaign—a movement to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers. The campaign eventually achieved victory in New York state and grew into a national movement.

“We radically transformed the public’s consciousness of what ‘valuable work’ is,” says Mohini. “Workers deserved a real say about what constitutes a living wage.”

Metro Justice’s effectiveness hinges on its ability to build public information campaigns that combine many disparate voices into one strong movement advocating for an important cause. Currently, the organization is engaged in two main efforts: advocating for energy utilities to become public and transition to green energy - ensuring access to cleaner, fairly priced power, and encouraging the establishment of a single-payer, universal basic healthcare system.

“Energy is a human right. Access to single-payer healthcare is a human right,” says Mohini. “We take the concerns of our members and work to show that justice comes from all of us - organizing together is our responsibility if we want to build a better world. We need to communicate and say to each other: This is our fight.”

Creating One Voice for Many

To launch successful campaigns, Metro Justice needs to empower volunteers with effective communications tools. The organization has earned a successful track record of attracting talented members because it champions deep, transformative visions for long-term solutions – not just quick fixes. Every step that Metro Justice works towards is linked to a larger systemic change.

Regular meetings play a pivotal role in motivating volunteers and driving progress, providing the opportunity for members to learn about ongoing campaigns. “Committees meet bi-weekly or monthly, and all members come together for our annual meeting,” Mohini says. “These meetings keep everyone up to date and offer opportunities to be involved in the work we’re doing. We take input from all members on where to go next, how to drive our campaigns, and how to fit them into the current political landscape.”

But COVID-19 had a double-impact on Metro Justice, increasing the need for its efforts while also threatening the communications mechanisms required to promote successful change. “The tragedies of the COVID-19 pandemic have politicized so many more people,” Mohini says. “It has shaken people, driven them to action to take back their lives and communities. Whether it’s universal healthcare, workers’ rights, the environmental crisis, or racial and economic equality, these have all become causes for people across the globe to rally behind.”

But none of this would have been possible during the pandemic if people couldn’t communicate. And traditional, face-to-face meetings were no longer an option during lockdowns and social distancing mandates.

“The Basis for Organizing a Movement is Talking to People, Plain and Simple” – Mohini Sharma

Communication among volunteers was already crucial to organize a movement and fight for long-term systemic change, and it became even more important during the pandemic. To prevent losing momentum in their activities, Metro Justice expanded use of their Mitel communications platform, allowing volunteers to continue meeting from remote locations and stay in touch.

Metro Justice discovered that a new foundation for human connections had emerged – one that could drive successful campaigns that produce real, visible change when in-person interactions were limited. Their Mitel communications platform makes it easier for members to collaborate and drive progress, keeping their social activism efforts moving forward.

“Without email, chat, phone calls, and social media, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do in order to grow and succeed,” says Mohini. “We’ve discovered there’s a lot of new energy. COVID opened people up to more electronic communications. It’s become easier to talk to people and meet online. We rely a lot on one-on-one communication, so instead of meeting in coffee shops, it’s great that people are getting more comfortable with video calls and tools like that. We can talk to them and bring them on board, no matter where they are.”

Mitel is proud to help enable this important human connection so that it can continue uninterrupted for Metro Justice.

You, Too, Can Make a Difference

Mohini and Metro Justice are building mass movements for long-term structural change for the benefit of society on local, state, nation, and global fronts.

“One of the best ways to learn about us is to go to www.metrojustice.org, where you can see active campaigns and current events,” Mohini explains. “You can also find out how to get involved with each campaign.”

Whether local or from afar, you can support Metro Justice remotely or get involved with a local organization like Metro Justice in your community.

“We know that the way to move closer a better world is through an organized, collective struggle for justice,” Mohini says. “Justice will come from all of us seeking to build that better world. This is our fight.”

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