April 29, 2015

Jobs With Justice

Putting Families First: A Blueprint For a New Economy

Today, Jobs With Justice joined the Center for Community Change, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Working Families Organization and the Center for Popular Democracy to launch Putting Families First: Good Jobs for All, a major campaign to secure quality, family-supporting jobs to everyone. At an event featuring speakers including Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), U.S. Representative Keith Ellison (MN-5), SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and Roosevelt Institute Fellow and MSNBC contributor Dorian Warren, the groups presented a campaign blueprint for the initiative. The blueprint reflects a commitment 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.

Together, these five organizations are working on campaigns in 41 states, supporting nearly 110 economic justice campaigns on a local, state and national level. Activists and leaders from several local Jobs With Justice coalitions spoke on panels at the event, detailing the work they’re doing in their communities to put the campaign platform into action. And our own Executive Director Sarita Gupta helped kick off and moderate the event, inspiring supporters to come together to help build an economy that works for everyone. We asked Sarita some questions about the campaign, and Jobs With Justice’s role in this effort. Here’s what she had to say:

What drew you to this effort?
I was excited to be on the ground floor shaping a proposal of what it would take to put families first and to prioritize investments and policies that can achieve jobs—and not just any jobs, but good jobs—for all who want to work. The solutions we are highlighting are simple but transformative.

We understand that work has changed. As America has swung out of balance, very few people put in their eight hours on the job and go home with enough in their pockets to feed a family. Along with our partners in this effort, the campaigns Jobs With Justice and our network are driving nationally and locally are designed to bring our economy more into balance.

What’s the basic idea of this campaign?
We are challenging ourselves, elected leaders and policy makers to make better choices—to guarantee good wages and benefits, to invest in communities and to truly value families.

Through this platform we are catalyzing an important national conversation. But we’re not just talking. We are also redoubling our efforts to make these choices locally, with local campaigns and organizing that will transform our communities.

How does this campaign reflect Jobs With Justice’s core values and goals?
At Jobs With Justice, our vision of a world, where everyone makes it, is anchored by our belief that that all people should have collective bargaining rights, employment security, and a decent standard of living within an economy that works for everyone. This campaign will elevate bold ideas to propel us closer towards the reality of that vision – where we create an economy that works for families and communities.

Tell us more about the platform.
Two aspects of the platform that connect deeply to our work are our plans to value families and guarantee good wages and benefits. We think it should be required that every job meets a minimum standard of quality – in wages, benefits, and working conditions – and offer unhindered access to collective representation and a real voice for workers.

Another goal is to end the systematic devaluation of care work, which disproportionately keeps women in poverty. So that’s certainly a big undertaking, but one I’m committed to! There is a huge demand for long-term care services like home care. But as a nation, we have yet to come up with a plan to address the new realities of our aging population. And we cannot afford NOT to have a plan.

We have an opportunity right now, today, to shape the future of care jobs in our economy so that the people who take care of our loved ones should be able to take of their own. Our approach here is to make high quality child care available to all working parents, raise the quality of jobs in the early childhood education and care fields, and transform homecare and provide financial support to unpaid caregivers.

This is just one of many examples of what it means to put families first and to create good jobs for all.
You can read more about the components of the platform on the campaign site.

So what happens with this initiative now?
Now, we try to take these ideas and affect real change, starting with the 2016 election. Using these stories, coupled with extensive academic and message research, we’re going to try to build a new politics. We want these ideas to become mainstream. We know that if we can get people to listen, they’ll agree that it’s time for a different kind of political agenda, and they’ll relate to the fundamental issues and values we’re proposing in this one. We’re here to engage our base, sure, but we’re also here to motivate a new group of people to take action.

How can people get involved?
You can join with us by signing the pledge to support the Putting Families First: Good Jobs for All campaign. Together, we can balance the scales by investing in an economy where everyone who wants to secure good-paying jobs, be treated fairly, and retire in dignity can do so – especially in communities that need it most.

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