The Fight for Good Jobs
Our country is facing the worst economic crisis of a generation. Big corporations shipped jobs overseas and Wall Street speculators took more and more of our wealth, getting rich quickly at the expense of workers and families. People are struggling and workers are angry and frustrated. Too many people cannot find good jobs and too many jobs don’t pay enough to support a family. Workers and communities are being divided as immigrant workers and public employees are scapegoated and blamed for the economic crisis caused by unregulated corporate greed.
At Jobs with Justice, we know that good jobs are the cornerstone of strong, healthy, happy communities. A good job is one where workers have collective bargaining rights, employment security, and wages and benefits that allow their families to enjoy a decent standard of living and earn a fair share of the wealth produced by their labor.
Last year, one in five American adults worked in jobs that paid poverty-level wages. Right now, not only are there are not enough jobs to go around, there are not enough of the good jobs we need to get our economy going again.
Last night, President Obama laid out a plan that he hopes will help speed up the recovery. While we may not see eye-to-eye with the President on all the specifics of the plan he laid out, we certainly agree that “we have to look beyond the immediate crisis and start building an economy that lasts into the future - an economy that creates good, middle-class jobs that pay well and offer security.” We can’t have a strong country without good jobs.
For too long, we’ve let corporate interests control our politics, and it’s clearer now more than ever that what’s good for corporate profits is not always good for our nation. Working people have had enough, and across the country brave workers are taking a stand. We are fighting back to defend good jobs and imagining new ways to create the good jobs we need.
Last winter in Wisconsin, we saw a breathtaking show of militant resistance to attacks on bargaining rights for public employees. We stood in solidarity with teachers, nurses, firefighters, farmers, students, people of faith, immigrants, and many others in Wisconsin. As the attacks on workers, immigrants, women, lesbian and gay communities, and the environment spread to Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Florida, Maine, and many more states – so too did our resistance and solidarity.
More recently, Verizon workers joined the fight back to defend good jobs and strengthen the economy. When Verizon, a company that pays its CEO more than they pay in taxes and is making record profits, tried to gut good jobs, workers made the bold decision to go out on strike. Thanks to the solidarity of union members and allies across the country, Verizon workers are back on the job and real progress is being made at the bargaining table. Hyatt housekeepers in hotels in four cities went on strike yesterday, not only to defend and protect their own jobs, but to fight for their sisters in non-union hotels. In the coming weeks and months workers at American Red Cross, Kaiser Permanente, grocery stores, janitorial services agencies, and more will stand up to tell companies that workers are not going to accept declining wages and more expensive benefits any more.
Unionized workers are not the only ones saying enough is enough. When student guestworkers at Hershey’s, who paid thousands of dollars to come to the U.S. on what they thought was a cultural exchange program, found themselves packing chocolates in a warehouse for $140/week, they took a stand. These brave students have exposed the flaws in the State Department’s J-1 visa program, and the contradictions in a system which allows companies to bring in exploited workers from other countries rather than creating good jobs for local workers.
Jobs with Justice has been working to build and launch campaigns that advance workers’ rights through pro-active state strategies that include raising the minimum wage, fighting for paid sick days and family leave, and more. We are working with allies to expand workers’ rights to millions of workers who are currently left out from existing labor protections through new formations like the Excluded Workers Congress, new strategies like the POWER Act, and more coordinated trans-national approaches.
Over the last few months, Jobs with Justice has been part of launching two exciting national campaigns that will help to build the movement we need, not just the movement we’ve always had. The Caring Across Generations campaign will address the pending care crisis by transforming the direct care industry and creating 2 million new, quality jobs in home care while meeting a growing need in our society. The Making Change at Walmart campaign will promote change at one of the nation’s leading retailers that can influence the overall growing retail industry.
At Jobs with Justice, we know that we all do better when we all do better. We are committed to continuing to build a transformative vision and agenda that will create the political working class movement that we need to respond to the challenges of the global economy.