Unions appear to be making a comeback as the Covid-19 economic crisis has emboldened workers and stirred up longstanding outrage over inequality and inadequate wages and benefits.
In an historic victory in late March, workers at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island voted to be represented by a union. They are the first workers to successfully organize a union at the tech giant.
Also in March, workers at a Starbucks store in Mesa, Arizona voted to unionize. The vote was the latest victory of a nationwide organizing drive that so far also resulted in victories at five stores in the Buffalo, N.Y. area, another store in Mesa, and one in Seattle, the hometown of the coffee chain. The union has petitioned to hold union elections at 150 stores in 27 states.
And in another sign of an increasingly aggressive union movement, workers at Condé Nast announced in March that they are seeking representation. The group includes 500 editorial, production, and video workers at publications where workers haven’t already unionized, including GQ, Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Architectural Review.
But despite the growing activism, unions still face enormous challenges. Employers continue to pour millions into resisting organizing drives. Not all union leaders have adopted aggressive organizing strategies, choosing instead to pour resources into defending their base. And after many years of declining membership, unions remain stuck in a deep hole.
In January, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that only 10.3 percent of the country’s workers enjoyed union representation in 2021, down from 20.1 percent in 1981. A mere 6.1 of the workers in the private sector are represented by unions.
Nevertheless, widely publicized organizing drives and a growing militancy are fueling hope for a labor revival following decades of attacks on unions that has led to the long-term downward spiral in membership and contributed to a worsening of inequality, an erosion of workplace benefits like traditional pensions, and a relentless economic squeeze on the middle class and poor.
A wave of teacher strikes that began in 2018 was an early sign of the deep-seated worker disenchantment that would blow up during the pandemic. Since then, the organizing drives at Amazon and Starbucks have captured a lot of attention.
Meanwhile, graduate students and museum, tech, and media workers are organizing like never before—and have won important victories. In February, workers at Raven Software unionized. Workers at a REI store in Manhattan have filed a petition for a union vote. Employees at several Apple stores are organizing.
Strikes are another sign of the greater militancy. Last year, taxi workers in New York, health care workers in Buffalo, Kellogg workers, and factory workers at Deere & Co. carried out successful strikes. Members of the International Alliance of Theatrical State Employees and the faculty at the University of California negotiated better pay and working conditions.
This wave of activism comes as unions are gaining greater support throughout the country. Support for unions has never been greater, according to a 2021 Gallup Poll. Some 68 percent of Americans approve of organized labor. That is up 20 percent since 2009. Support is especially strong among younger workers (GenZ and Millennials), who approve unions by 77 percent.
Labor analysts point to a number of factors explaining the greater labor activism sparked by the pandemic. The Covid-19-induced economic downturn led millions of workers to leave the workforce out of a concern for their health and safety and child-care responsibilities. They became less willing to accept poorly compensated jobs. A tight labor market and record job openings allowed workers to demand higher wages and improved benefits.
Deepening inequality heightened worker resentment over the fundamental unfairness of the U.S. economy in which the federal minimum wage remained stagnant while the earnings of billionaires skyrocketed and Covid-19 took its toll on ordinary Americans. By late 2021, nearly 90 million Americans had lost their jobs, about 45 million had suffered from Covid-19, and almost 8 million had died from it, according to figures compiled by the Economic Policy Institute. So, it’s no wonder that workers would be stirred up by the country’s unfairness.
The world’s ten richest men more than doubled their fortunes from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion—at a rate of $15,000 per second or $1.3 billion—during the first two years of a pandemic that has seen the incomes of 99 percent of humanity fall and over 160 million more people forced into poverty, according to an Oxfam report released in January. Nine out of the top ten richest men in the world are Americans.
From March 2020 to March 2022, Elon Musk’s wealth increased from $24.6 billion to $234.0 billion (851 percent), according to Forbes. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos increased his wealth from $113.0 billion to $161.5 billion (46 percent), and Bill Gates’ wealth jumped from $98.0 billion to $129.5 billion (32 percent).
Amazon CEO Bezos’s soaring wealth served as a rallying cry for the workers who organized the Amazon warehouse in Staten Island. And his adventures in space played into the union’s attack on corporate greed. Bezos’s worth had climbed so much from March- to September 2020 that he could have given all 876,000 Amazon employees a $105,000 bonus and still would have retained his pre-pandemic wealth, according to an Oxfam report in 2021.
As Bezos profited mightily during the pandemic, he has sunk millions of dollars into an effort to block the organizing drives in New York and Bessemer, Alabama, where votes are being tabulated in a second union election after the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Amazon intervened illegally in the first election.
Will the victory of the Amazon workers be the spark that deepens the growing militancy in the labor movement? Will Amazon workers play the role of leading the fight for unionization as autoworkers did in the 1930s? Millions of workers certainly hope so.
Jobs for All Newsletter contributor Gregory N. Heires is a blogger (www.thenewcrossroads.com) and a former president of the Metro New York Labor Communications Council.
The last NJFAN newsletter featured a letter sent to New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams challenging his assertion that the problem in New York is not lack of jobs but lack of access to jobs--and urging him to create jobs in the tradition of his predecessor Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. The letter was signed by NJFAN Advisory Board member Franklin D. Roosevelt III, NJFAC Chair Trudy Goldberg, and Executive Committee member Noreen Connell who initiated this project.
After reading the letter, Executive Committee member Alan Aja suggested that our call for job creation reach a wider audience. With more current data on unemployment and again taking issue with Mayor Adam's inaccurate definition of the employment problem, the following op-ed appeared in the New York Daily News March 19th. The response has been very positive, including some interest on the part of elected officials.
Officeholders all over the country need to hear from you about jobs and wages in your city or state. We urge you to follow the example of our leaders. Let the public and their representatives know how you define the problem and the solution. Let us know your action and public responses to it so that we can share the news with other advocates of a Job Guarantee.
The problem, Mr. Mayor, is too few jobs — not too little access By TRUDY GOLDBERG, NOREEN CONNELL and ALAN AJA
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS | MAR 19, 2022, AT 5:00 AM
Amid the crowded Democratic primary for mayor, some candidates, including Maya Wiley, Dianne Morales and Scott Stringer, promised upwards of 100,000 new jobs with “hire local” provisions. But candidate Eric Adams had no such plans. He asserted that “the biggest problem is not lack of jobs, it’s the lack of access to jobs.” Since problem definitions are the basis for problem solutions, it is important to refute Adams’ assertion that there is no lack of jobs in New York City.
A recent report from the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs painted a startling reality quite counter to that of Adams. Despite a marginal economic recovery over the last year that still leaves the city behind the rest of the country, the city’s pandemic jobs deficit in January 2022 stood at 317,000 jobs, or 6.8% (compared to -2.3% nationwide), and its latest unemployment rate is 7.3%, almost twice the seasonally adjusted national figure. For Black and Hispanic communities, the unemployment rate during the latest quarter was even more alarming — 15.2% and 10.2%, respectively.
Moreover, official unemployment rates seriously undercount real joblessness because they omit part-time workers who want but are unable to get full-time jobs and persons who would like a job but aren’t currently looking for such reasons as lack of child care, transportation and — during a pandemic — fear of contagion.
In a recent edition of its Unheard Third series, the Community Service Society of New York found that the majority of low-income New Yorkers perceive employment conditions quite differently from the mayor. Among their major concerns, they rank the lack of jobs just below COVID. While Adams’ proposals for “community skills mapping” and improved job postings may be marginally helpful, these efforts amount to a cruel game of musical chairs so long as there are too few jobs to go around. Put differently, job training does not create jobs, nor does more education or training guarantee either a job or a livable wage for low-income New Yorkers.
Instead of programs designed to address these serious problems, Adams has rolled out plans consistent with his narrow vision: that a few quick fixes will create careers for low-income New Yorkers. He unveiled a “next-level” workforce development strategy involving training and public-private partnerships. Most recently, he announced an expanded summer youth employment program for 100,000 young people.
We’ve been here before. Even in pre-pandemic times, job training and exposure to corporate culture for a few summer months did not “create” jobs. Nor does more education or “credentialing” guarantee a job or a corresponding wage.
We urge Adams to focus, instead, on job creation. Three years ago, the National Jobs for All Network (NJFAN) worked with the office of then-Public Advocate Letitia James on job creation legislation to be introduced into the City Council. This New York City Jobs for All Job Assurance Plan proposed to create more than 150,000 jobs, launching aggressive climate abatement efforts and expanding the effectiveness of city agencies in providing after-school activities, skills training and community and arts programs.
Although creating sufficient jobs to fill the omnipresent job gap in New York City is the heart of this full-employment proposal for New York City, job training would be available within this program for whatever skills workers need to perform their jobs competently. This, we believe, is the proper relation of job training to job creation. In addition, through a jobs assurance program, the threat of unemployment and wage exploitation is not only addressed, but job discrimination in the labor market at large is also reduced.
There is a historical precedent for a New York City job creation campaign to reduce unemployment by means of job creation. In the 1930s, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia — in a partnership with the federal government — made a major assault on joblessness and, in the process, built bridges, theaters, parks, tunnels, and public art. With national calls for a Green New Deal, a state-to-local level campaign for a New Deal for CUNY, and a federal administration poised to address the climate change crisis and the neglect of our infrastructure, Adams has the opportunity to cement a legacy of job creation. Job training alone won’t get us there.
Goldberg is Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg, Professor Emerita of Social Work and Social Policy, Adelphi University and chair of the National Jobs for All Network.
Connell is a former assistant commissioner of the NYS Department of Labor, a former president of NYS National Organization for Women, and board member, National Jobs for All Network.
Aja is professor and chair in the department of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at Brooklyn College and a board member of the National Jobs for All Network.
Bishop Reginald T. Jackson calls out Democrats and especially President Biden for failure to lead the fight to protect voting rights. Presidential leadership is critical, but so is a strong movement to back it up.
One source of widespread support for a save democracy movement is the numerous organizations promoting economic, social, racial and gender justice that often pursue their goals separately.
Justice advocates have good reason — in addition to the obvious one of saving government for and by the people — to throw their full weight behind protection of voting rights.
That is why those engaged in the struggle for economic and social justice must make preservation of democracy and voting rights integral to their goals and struggles. Let us put aside the siloing that often characterizes our work and unite to preserve democracy.
Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg
New Canaan, Conn.
The writer is chair of the National Jobs for All Network.
A great deal of work in the United States is done by volunteers who are not counted as employed in official statistics of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics—even if their work is done in a traditional workplace. Why? Because they are not paid. John A. Turner, Bruce W. Klein, and Constance Sorrentino, three researchers who consider making volunteer work more visible, point out that two persons doing the same work—one working in retail sales and being paid is counted as employed, while another doing nearly identical work in a charity organization consignment shop, is not counted as employed. Under the current definition of unemployment people are considered employed—only if they work for pay or profit.
Turner, Klein, and Sorrentino consider whether there should be an expanded definition of employment based on the nature of the activity people are doing and not solely on monetary compensation. They presented the findings of their study at a recent meeting of the Columbia University Seminar on Full Employment, Social Welfare, and Equity, with which NJFAN is closely associated. Turner, Klein, and Sorrentino cite the Johns Hopkins Volunteer Measurement Project: “Including volunteering as a subset of work means that the tangible and invaluable contributions volunteering makes to individuals and society are being recognized as a force that should be tracked and measured so that it can be better supported and fostered.” The number of volunteers in the United States is quite substantial—63 million or 25% of the population in a recent year. Older people volunteer at about the same rate as the general population, but median hours of volunteer work of people 65 and older are close to double that of the total population 16 and over.
Thus, by omitting volunteer labor from official employment statistics, the Bureau of Labor Statistics leaves out a substantial amount of work performed in the U.S. economy. The authors of this article do not suggest changes in the official statistical concepts of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics since consistency is important in a historical data series. However, they discuss issues pertaining to an expanded measure of work that would supplement the current definition by including volunteers, and they construct a measure consistent with that definition from data in currently available surveys. These measures, they write, would be particularly useful for understanding the labor force activity of older people--especially those workers retired from regular employment and doing volunteer work. Moreover, they point out, the Covid-19 pandemic has heightened the importance of volunteering—even though the measure of volunteer work they propose does not include “direct volunteers” who provide help on their own such as shopping or household chores. Such direct volunteering greatly increased during the Pandemic. The measure proposed by Turner, Klein, and Sorrentino, however, is confined to volunteer work provided through an organization because that is the current statistical definition of volunteers used in the United States. New data collections would be required to broaden the definition to encompass all volunteers.
The definition of work, these authors point out, has important implications at both the micro- and macrolevels. At the microlevel, the definition of work affects our understanding of how people spend their time. At the macrolevel, it affects our understanding of the aggregate amount of productive activity people are undertaking. The authors refer to a statement of the Current Population Survey (CPS): ”how work is defined affects how people define themselves.” Those of us who advocate a Job Guarantee recognize the deeply destructive effects of unemployment on the self-image of those who are denied the opportunity to work—psychological and social wounds as well as economic deprivation.
According to Turner, Klein, and Sorrentino, an expanded definition of work could supplement the current definition and provide an additional measure of work that could be useful in enhancing our understanding of the transition from work to retirement. They write that such a definition “would recognize that many people, particularly retirees with pension benefits, do not require or need monetary compensation but will engage in volunteer work because of its nonmonetary benefits, including psychological and health benefits.” This suggests that volunteer work is often a privilege and one that people who are unemployed or who have suffered poor pay and sporadic employment are denied.
Using data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) collected by the Census Bureau and published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the authors add a measure of volunteer labor in addition to the three existing measures--and the ones used in NJFAN’s Real Count: employed, unemployed, and not in the labor force (not employed and not officially looking for work). The fourth measure they propose is volunteering in an organization at least one hour a week and not in the labor force. Adding these to the number officially employed in 2015 brings the general population's labor force participation rate up from 65.5% to 73.4%. The increase is much greater for the 65 and plus population: from 23.5% to 41.0%. Moreover, as previously cited, the elderly volunteer much more time than the general population.
Such an additional measure of labor activity would not only increase public perception of the contribution of the elderly to economic activity but would help to broaden the conception of work. Were direct volunteer work to be included, the increases and changes in perception would be even greater. For example, altogether excluded from calculations of labor activity and this definition of volunteer work is the enormous amount of family care provided. Adding that to the definition of voluntary work would give visibility to the huge amount of unpaid work women contribute to the economy and perhaps elevate this role in the minds of policymakers. Reportedly, the British economist Joan Robinson observed: “A man who marries his housekeeper reduces the GNP.” And Marx viewed family care as reproducing the labor force.
The attempt to make volunteer work visible has a special appeal to those of us in the National Jobs for All Network who work hard on behalf of our goal—the guarantee of useful, living-wage work for all. Most JFAN Workers Are Volunteers. Some of us worked to keep alive the dream of full employment and an end to the scourge of unemployment while we were full-time employees. Retirement freed us to work more for what FDR considered “the first and most fundamental” of his proposed Economic Rights. And we particularly honor our colleagues who currently combine full-time paid employment with their volunteer advocacy on behalf of Jobs for All. We need more volunteers to end unemployment and guarantee good jobs.
JOIN US! Increase Volunteer Output and Help to Bring Decent, Paid Work to All
 John A. Turner, Bruce W. Klein, and Constance Sorrentino, “Making Volunteer Work visible: Supplementary Measures of Work in Labor Force Statistics,” Monthly Labor Review, July 2020:
John A. Turner is director of the Pension Policy Center, Washington, DC; Bruce W. Klein is senior research economist at the Pension Policy Center, Washington, DC; Constance Sorrentino is the former chief of the Division of International Labor Comparisons, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
 The Johns Hopkins Volunteer Measurement Project, Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University), http://ccss.jhu.edu/research-projects/vmp/
1. Unemployment. Unemployment fell again, reaching 3.6%. That’s about where it was in February of 2020.
But the rates for some categories are still terribly high: African-Americans: 6.2%; Disabled Persons: 8.8%; Teens: 10%; and Black Teens: 22.9%.
2. Job Totals. Employers added 431,000 non-farm jobs. Not blockbuster numbers but a C+. Areas that did well included retail trade and transport and warehouse employment. The health-care sector changed little in March, and it is still about 300,000 below pre-pandemic levels, despite the fact that there are more sick people.
3. What’s normal? Some commentators have announced that we are back to full employment or at least normal unemployment. Non-farm jobs were just 1.6 million below February 2020. But we need to think more deeply. Even to get back to conventional normal, we actually need 4 million jobs because--surprise--the population and potential labor force increased over two years. Furthermore, conventional normal leaves out millions of people who want jobs but are just outside the labor force and not counted as unemployed because they aren’t actively searching for work. The National Jobs for All Network emphasizes that while there were only 6 million officially unemployed persons in March, there were 5.7 million job-wanters not currently searching and 4.2 million part-time workers who wanted full-time work (See the Full Count for March in this issue). The total number of people who wanted a job or an upgrade was 15.9 million. To clear out just half of that deficit would require 8 million jobs.
4. Plenty of Job Vacancies? In January and February, the number of job openings reported by employers fell a bit from record-high levels to around 10.7 million. Worker quit-rates also fell slightly. On paper there are job openings for many of the unemployed and underemployed. But perhaps some openings are phantoms. We hear occasionally from persons who answer many job postings and never hear back. But aside from the possibility that some vacancies aren’t real, something important is still happening.
5. The Great Resignation-and-Resistance Movement Continues. It may be losing a little steam, but quit-rates are still unusually high and so is the number of unionization drives. A handful of Starbucks stores have voted to go union, and a hundred more are petitioning for a vote. An independent union on Staten Island, the Amazon Labor Union, is the first ever to win an election at an Amazon warehouse. It’s nothing new that people are unhappy with their jobs, but more are willing to act upon that feeling by quitting to go home or find a new job, or by organizing. These are rational responses to years of workplace oppression for millions of workers.
In 2020 and 2021, Covid-19 dangers and generous federal income supports made workers more careful about job choices, more resentful about employers’ lack of concern for their safety, and more likely to walk away from jobs. Most of the pandemic benefits are gone, but quit-rates are still high. A new Pew Research Foundation survey found that the three leading reasons why employees quit were low pay, limited advancement opportunities, and disrespect at work. Many also mentioned child-care issues. Most who quit found new jobs, and most thought those were better jobs. So most quitters do not stay quit. Changing jobs has long been a way to improve one’s economic situation, but more people are doing it now.
The Pew survey does not seem to show employees’ Covid-19 concerns, but they are still active. As one example, workers at Activision recently staged a virtual walkout after the company lifted its vaccine mandates and pressured employees to come back to the office.
6. Government Job Programs. The need for millions of truly good jobs is not being solved in today’s job market. It cannot be fully solved by individual actions or even by more unionization. Government job programs are required to create millions of jobs that pay well, offer decent benefits, and are open to all social groups.
7. The Inflation Threat. Average wages are climbing, but high inflation is erasing wage gains for most employees. High inflation is also causing experts--Paul Krugman for one--to call on government officials to cool the economy. In effect, Krugman and others are asking for more unemployment, and they may even want a recession.
Aren’t there other ways to deal with inflation? How about selective price-and-profit controls on, for example, petroleum products? Or, better, more subsidies to users of alternative energy sources? Why not offer all but affluent households income cushions, including a reboot of the lapsed Child Tax Credit expansion? Why not get really wild and crazy and incentivize economists to find better inflation remedies than throwing people out of work?
Frank Stricker is on the Board and Executive Committee of the National Jobs for All Network. He taught history and labor studies for many years at California State University, Dominguez Hills. His book, American Unemployment: Past, Present, and Future (2020), shows that excessive unemployment, not full employment, has been the rule for most of the last century and a half. And a main cause has been willed ignorance.
Since its founding in 1994, the National Jobs for All Network (previously Coalition) has been “telling the whole story” about unemployment.*
Our founders recognized that the official unemployment rate reported monthly by the Labor Department leaves out more jobless and job short workers than it includes. To be counted as unemployed, one must work less than one hour a week in paid employment and be actively seeking employment. As the above figures show, more than half the unemployed or underemployed are left out of the official count. Consider the political consequences of this undercount—of a problem perceived by the public as less than half as widespread as it really is.
Charles (Chuck) Bell wears many hats with the NJFAN. He serves as NJFAN’s Vice-Chair, as legislative affairs specialist, and works to keep the website going and assist in the production of our newsletters. He does all of this on top of a full-time job as Programs Director for Consumer Reports, where he works on a wide range of consumer policy issues, including financial services, auto insurance, student loans, product safety, food safety, digital privacy, and energy efficiency.
A life-long social justice advocate, Chuck comes by this commitment from an early age. His parents were active in social movements for civil rights, peace in Vietnam, and women’s rights. When he was three or four, he remembers that his mother went to sit on the White House steps to call for a nuclear test ban treaty. At the age of eleven or twelve, he attended a teach-in about Vietnam, and in the 1980s, between spells of unemployment, he worked for a food bank and a peace organization in Oregon. Over the course of his life he has championed consumers’ rights, economic justice, affordable housing, clean energy, immigration reform, and peace and opposition to militarism. In addition to his writing for NJFAN, Chuck has published many articles in such publications as the Charlotte Observer, Gannett Suburban Newspapers, the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, the Seattle Times, and the Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine.
Chuck has been with the NJFAN (formerly the National Jobs for All Coalition or NJFAC) from its inception. He says: The issue resonated with me because my first real job at the Portland Food Bank was a federally-subsidized public service employment job. I love the idea of expanding job opportunities for everyone who wants to work, by getting the government to invest in infrastructure and social services that are not provided by the private market. That’s a win-win solution for people and the economy as a whole.
When asked how he sees NJFAN’s importance and its focus on a job guarantee Chuck recalled that Sumner Rosen, one of NJFAC’s founders, used to say, “A good job is a consumer’s best friend,” and Chuck says it’s very true. It’s hard to have a decent life if you don’t have two nickels to rub together. There’s a chronic shortage of enough dignified jobs with decent pay and benefits for everyone who wants to work. If workers had a legal right to a decent job, employers would have to pay everyone better and treat workers more fairly. A job guarantee is also a close cousin to other universal economic rights that are vital for a fair economy, such as health care for all, retirement savings for all, and child care for all. And finally, a job guarantee would help us to have a fair transition to a clean energy economy since it would assure that workers who are affected by changes in the energy sector would still have a good place to work.
When Chuck was asked what are his most pressing worry (or worries) about the current political climate in the country and the world, he replied: In his 1968 speech at Riverside Church, Martin Luther King identified the “giant ethical triplets” of racism, poverty, and militarism and pointed out the importance of linking arms across social movements to overcome all three. Unfortunately, we haven’t made as much progress on any of those problems as we need to do. It is astonishing that the US is continuing to waste $1 trillion a year on military spending at a time when homeless people are living in cars and fill the streets of our cities, and when so many Americans still lack health and dental care. We should have implemented a massive program of economic conversion of the weapons manufacturers like Seymour Melman [the scholar and antiwar activist] had proposed and helped other countries to go in that direction. If so, we might have avoided both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and now the terrible war in Ukraine.
At the same time, there are other huge ethical challenges that have emerged, including the climate and environmental crisis, corporate globalization, a highly polarized media and social media environment, and a global refugee crisis. As we navigate these immense challenges, we must prioritize improving democratic governance and the rule of law because a big chunk of the US political establishment is trying to weaponize social media to promote ethnic and racial polarization. We are really close to losing control of our US institutions to autocrats.
When asked what he thinks are the most important issues today requiring popular mobilization, Chuck replied: If I had to choose three, I would say, moving to a clean energy economy, economic fairness, and racial justice. We can’t get anywhere without economic fairness, so that’s always at the top of the list. It feels like the political polarization we are experiencing in the US and around the globe and then the pandemic that followed and the war in Ukraine, are in a sense a huge distraction from the massively serious climate crisis that will have increasingly serious epiphenomenal consequences. I feel in my heart that tackling the climate crisis has to be policy job #1.
And as for racial justice, at the heart of the political polarization we are experiencing is the denial of fundamental rights to people of color. The right-wing attacks on teachers, librarians, and school systems for even trying to teach about how racism has played out over US history are appalling. We’ve had a fraction of the conversation we should have about policing and mass incarceration, and people are already trying to shut it down. All these years later after Dr. King’s Riverside Church speech, we haven’t had anything like a full reckoning with white supremacy and how it shapes our past and our present.
As another example, I’ve spent the last 15 years or so working for immigration reform with friends in my community. Some of the young Dreamer youth I was working with are all grown up, but they still may not have legal status, and their parents who came to the US to work still have no path to citizenship. The fact that we can’t make a national decision about this is heartbreaking. A fair conversation would recognize that there is so much work that goes on in this country, such as harvesting and producing our food, that would be completely impossible without immigrants. In New York state, we recently created an Excluded Workers Fund to provide assistance to immigrant workers who lost their jobs and experienced poverty during the pandemic. That’s a tiny step forward to recognize our essential workers and to show we are not going to exclude them anymore.
Chuck has worked with a great variety of social justice organizations. He finds working with the NJAN especially rewarding. While a lot of nonprofit organizations and advocacy groups focus on issues that address the harm created by wealth inequality and corporate greed, NJFAN’s positions and policy advocacy aim at the heart of the problem. Like Bobby Kennedy, "We look at things that never were, and say, ‘why not?’’’ As difficult as it is to make progress, we have our eyes on the prize. Keep your eyes on the prize. Hold on.
 The reference is to Back to Methuselah, by George Bernard Shaw.
Sheila D. Collins is Professor of Political Science Emerita, William Paterson University and a founding member of the NJFAC (now NJFAN) on whose board she serves. The author of numerous books and articles on politics, public policy, social movements, and religion, her latest publication is a biography of a leading human rights activist: Ubuntu: George M. Houser and the Struggle for Peace & Freedom on Two Continents (Ohio University Press, 2020).
The National Jobs for All Networkis dedicated to the proposition that meaningful employment is a precondition for a fulfilling life and that every person capable of working should have the right to a job. As part of our mission, the NJFAN promotes discussion, encourages networking, and disseminates information concerning the problem of unemployment, the struggle for workers’ rights, and the goal of guaranteeing decent work for everyone who wants it.
NJFAN relies on your support. If you find our material useful, please make a tax-deductible donation. We are all volunteers, except for a part-time coordinator and a part-time administrator.
We are publishing this newsletter to provide a public forum where the multiple groups and countless individuals interested in promoting this goal can learn what others are doing to promote the jobs guarantee idea, build public support for it, and pursue legislative initiatives to implement it.
We invite our readers to:
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Please send your updates and contact suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks so much in advance for your help in building this important social movement.
The views expressed in the articles published in the Jobs for All newsletter (including those authored by editors and writers of the newsletter and board members of the NJFAN) are not necessarily those of the NJFAN as an organization. We hope that the newsletter will become a forum of discussion and debate among jobs-for-all/full-employment/right-to-work/job-guarantee advocates. With that goal in mind, we plan to add a letter to the editor section to the newsletter and also encourage readers to email us at http://email@example.com to suggest articles they would like to contribute to the newsletter. We promise a quick response.
Trudy Goldberg, Editor. Chuck Bell and Charlotte Wilhelm (production managers); Frank Stricker; Philip Harvey; Stephen Monroe Tomczak (Movement News);Logan Martinez; June Zaccone (Full Count and NJFAN website) and Noreen Connell.
National Jobs for All Network
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