April 29, 2015

Major National Organizations Launch $40M Campaign to Initiate Biggest Economic Changes in 60 Years

Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, and Advocacy, Civil Rights and Grassroots Organizations Kick Off Campaign Putting Families at Center of Economic Debate

New polling, roadmap for creating good jobs for all kick-off national discussion heading into 2016

Media Contacts:
Center for Community Change: Donna De La Cruz, ddelacruz@communitychange.org (202) 339-9331
Center for Popular Democracy: Ricardo Ramirez, rramirez@populardemocracy.org (202) 464-7376
Jobs With Justice: Ori Korin, ori@jwj.org (202) 393 1044 ext. 126
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: Scott Simpson, simpson@civilrights.org (202) 466-2061
Working Families Organization: Joe Dinkin, jdinkin@workingfamilies.org (978) 223-5868

(Washington)–Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown joined advocacy, civil rights and grassroots organizations to launch a national campaign, Putting Families First: Good Jobs for All, a major campaign to bring jobs – good jobs – to everyone.  The groups presented a blueprint to guarantee good wages and benefits and create new jobs that sustain all families by meeting America’s needs for infrastructure, education, childcare and a clean energy future.

Debates about economic inequality are at the top of voters’ minds and candidates’ stump speeches, and movements are emerging to change the rules of the game that unfairly favor the wealthy. The Center for Community Change, Center for Popular Democracy, Jobs With Justice, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Working Families Organization are setting the terms of the economic debate for the 2016 election cycle and beyond with this bold new blueprint for the future.

Together, these five organizations are working on campaigns in 41 states, and have a combined membership of approximately 2.88 million. They are supporting nearly 110 economic justice campaigns on a local, state, and national  level. At the launch, advocates announced new statewide campaigns in Ohio, Maine and Washington state, and additional campaigns will kick off throughout the lead up to the 2016 election.

“We’re done tinkering on the margins of income inequality. We must be bold. That’s what this campaign is about,” said Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change. “We can restore balance in our economy and create an America that works for everyone. This begins by putting families first. If politicians want to talk ‘family values,’ it’s time they start valuing families – and that means making sure all Americans can make ends meet.”

At the campaign kick-off, academic and political commentator Dorian T. Warren released a new economic blueprint for how to eradicate poverty in America; Pollster Celinda Lake shared new public opinion research that shows the extent of the shift in public support for more ambitious, progressive proposals than nearly any elected official is now making. Among the findings was that people strongly valued investing “in creating jobs, especially in places with high unemployment and low wages, including communities of color,” with 82 percent of people agreeing with this statement, including 53 percent who strongly agreed.

Also, grassroots activists talked about groundbreaking campaigns at the state and local level to bring good jobs to all; and prominent leaders such as Mary Kay Henry of the Service Employees International Union, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) called for a bold progressive agenda that guarantees good jobs for all.

“Today’s launch of the Putting Families First campaign carries on the great legacy of the movement to build an economy that works for everyone, with no exceptions. To compete in the 21st century, we must be a nation that expands opportunity for all, promotes decent work, supports working families, ensures economic security, and helps people build wealth to weather hard times and lay the foundation for the advancement of future generations,” said Wade Henderson, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

“For 30 years Wall Street has rigged the economy, and a lot of rich bankers have become really rich bankers. If we continue down this path, our democracy will perish.  We don’t need more hedge fund millionaires. We do need millions more decent, middle class jobs that allow people to sustain their families, pay down their debt, and invest in a secure retirement. Everyone who isn’t blinded by greed knows this to be true,” said Dan Cantor, Executive Director of the Working Families Organization.

“We understand that work has changed. Very few workers put in their eight hours on the job and go home with enough in their pockets to feed a family,” said Sarita Gupta, Executive Director of Jobs With Justice and Co-Director of Caring Across Generations. “More than 42.6 million workers today are stuck in subcontracted, temporary or part-time jobs, facing erratic schedules, cashing too few paychecks, lacking long-term security and left without a voice on the job. In addition, 42 million Americans earn less than $15 an hour.”

“We are in a movement moment. Our communities are rising,” said Ana Maria Archila, Co-Executive Director of the Center for Popular Democracy. “Just two weeks ago thousands and thousands of fast food workers marched in streets across 200 cities to demand that every person’s work be valued and respected with dignified wage and the right to organize. That’s the audacious demand that is refocusing the conversation about inequality around the idea that wealth is created by people who work, and those who work should receive a fair share of the wealth they create.”

Bhargava said we are facing this crisis because mainstream liberal and conservative arguments have stood in the way of breakthrough solutions. “We must reject both liberals’ and conservatives’ shared false assumptions if we’re going to solve this crisis,” said Bhargava.  “We can’t adhere to the discredited myth that wealth comes solely from corporations or entrepreneurs. It’s created by people’s hard work. We need to strengthen our safety net, and ensure fewer people fall into it. And we won’t shame our way to prosperity by blaming people for all that befalls them. We need to change the rules of the game, and together, we have the power to do it.”

The campaign will focus on five major ideas that will restore balance in our economy and create an America that works for everyone:

1)    Guaranteeing good wages and benefits: Through a combination of setting higher floors on the terms of employment and restoring workers’ bargaining power, the plan ensures that every worker and job seeker has access to good jobs, with benefits and supports that provide a family-sustaining wage of at least $15 per hour and $30,000 per year, and allow workers to meet caregiving needs.

2)    Valuing families: Make high quality, affordable early education and child care available to all working parents and their children while we raise the quality of jobs for teachers and workers in this field and create millions of new jobs. Provide parents with the freedom and choice to stay home with young children. Improve the quality of jobs for workers who care for seniors and people with disabilities, and invest in training and workforce development programs that increase the number of care workers and address the growing need for long-term services and supports.

3)    Building a clean energy economy: Through large-scale investment to substantially reduce our reliance on carbon-based energy and to repair and rebuild our infrastructure and create millions of good jobs as we work to achieve those goals, while also ensuring that women and people of color are able to participate fully in this economy of the future.

4)    Unlocking opportunity in the poorest communities: This call for reinvestment is designed to channel significant federal investments to communities with high unemployment and low wages to help rebuild their local economies and provide access to jobs and wealth-building opportunities.

5)    Taxing concentrated wealth: Our tax policy recommendations will remove incentives for the 1 percent to take ever-increasing amounts of pay, encourage good-job creation and raise the revenue necessary to make investments necessary to transform the economy into one that generates good jobs for all.

To learn more about the campaign, visit http://putfamiliesfirst.org

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