January 2020 Newsletter

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National Jobs for All Network
_______________________________________________________________________
P.O. Box 96, Lynbrook, NY 11563 · [email protected] · www.njfac.org 
Issue #1, January 2020
In this issue:

Introduction to the Jobs for All Newsletter

Dear Economic Justice Advocates,

Welcome to this first issue of the Jobs for All Newsletter: A Movement-Building Clearinghouse of Information and Action Alerts to Guarantee Living-Wage Work for All!

The Jobs for All Newsletter is a publication of the National Jobs for All Network (NJFAN). Founded in 1994 at a National Leadership Consultation for Full Employment attended by representatives of over 70 regional and national organizations, the NJFAN is dedicated to the proposition that meaningful, environmentally sustaining employment is a human right and that the Guarantee of such employment is essential for the health of families, communities, nations, and the planet.

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.

We are establishing 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 Job Guarantee idea, build public support for it, and pursue legislative initiatives to implement it.

We invite our readers to:

  • Comment on the contents of this issue of the Jobs for All Newsletter
  • Help us to establish a Jobs for All Action Clearinghouse by informing us of Publications, Actions and Events that Promote a Job Guarantee or related economic justice goals so we can share the information with other readers
  • Submit ideas for articles in coming issues of the Jobs for All Newsletter
  • Provide names and email addresses of individuals to whom we may send a subsequent issue of the Jobs for All Newsletter.

In Solidarity,

Trudy Goldberg, Chair, NJFAN
Chuck Bell, Vice Chair
Logan Martinez, Outreach Coordinator

2019-2020 Legislative Update

by Philip Harvey

The purpose of this section of the Newsletter is to inform readers of legislative initiatives and proposals that address our shared interests and to provide a forum for discussing design options in the drafting of legislative proposals. This article will kick off that process by describing three bills currently pending in Congress that would use direct government job creation to eliminate the economy’s persistent job shortage across all phases of the business cycle. We invite you to comment on this legislation or our description of it in the comment section following this article.

The three bills summarized in the update are:

  • H.R. 1000 (the Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act or the Jobs for All Act)
  • S. 2457 and H.R. 4278 (the Federal Job Guarantee Development Act of 2019)
  • H.R. 2358 (the 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps Act)
     
H.R. 1000 (the Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act or the Jobs for All Act)
  • Originally introduced in 2013 by Rep. John Conyers and now sponsored by Rep. Frederica Wilson.
  • If enacted, the legislation would fund enough job creation projects to provide decent work for all jobseekers in the United States across all phases of the business cycle.
  • Projects would be approved for funding and monitored for performance by the Department of Labor.
  • Entities eligible to apply for project funding would consist of federal, state and local government agencies, quasi-public entities established by any level of government, Indian tribes, and 501(c)(1), (3), (5) and (19) not-for-profit organizations.
  • The Secretary of Labor would have the authority to establish and administer job creation projects directly, if necessary to achieve program goals.
  • The Act would fund both employer-provided and free-standing job training to the full extent required to furnish all program employees with the skills needed to perform their duties in a professionally competent manner and to allow program participants to upgrade their skills to qualify for better-paying jobs.
  • All projects would have to—
    • fill at least 35% of their jobs with individuals who qualify as disadvantaged unless there are insufficient numbers of such persons seeking such employment.
    • address community needs and reduce inequality of access to public goods, public services, and public amenities.
    • be carried out in a manner that is as ecologically sustainable as is reasonably possible.
    • utilize a minimum of 75% of program funds to cover labor costs, but program funding could be supplemented with non-program funding to carry out more capital intensive projects such as the construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing units.
  • Program jobs would pay the same wages and benefits that public sector employees receive for doing the same work or work of comparable worth where the project operates.
  • Program employees would be permitted to perform work covered by a collective bargaining agreement only with the affirmative consent of the union following negotiations over the terms and conditions of the program workers’ employment.
  • Supplemental assistance and benefits would be provided to program employees whose wages and benefits are inadequate to support a modest but adequate standard of living for the worker and the worker’s dependents.
  • Job displacement or substitution would be strictly prohibited by means of strong enforcement measures.
  • To be eligible for program employment, jobseekers would have to—
    • be either jobless or employed part-time but want full-time employment;
    • register as available for and seeking work with their local One Stop Career Center;
    • complete a 30-day search for non-program employment with the assistance of the One Stop Center (unless they are eligible for or receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits).
  • Once certified as eligible for program employment, jobseekers would apply for program jobs as they would any other job; but if they have trouble finding a program job they would be provided special assistance ensuring them a satisfactory placement.
  • Program funding would be provided by (1) a dedicated financial transactions tax (FTT), (2) revenues generated by the program itself (e.g., for the rental or sale of affordable housing built or renovated by the program), (3) revenue generated by income and payroll taxes levied against program wages, (4) savings generated by foregone unemployment insurance benefits, (5) savings in government health expenditures in other programs (due to the receipt by program employees of program-provided health insurance benefits). All of these funds would be deposited in a new trust fund reserved for program use.
  • If the program’s trust fund ever lacks the monies needed to provide decent work for all unemployed and underemployed jobseekers, the Federal Reserve System would be obligated to lend it whatever additional funds are needed to achieve the program’s purposes; and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors would would be obligated to cancel any portion of such loans that it determined could be cancelled without harming the economy.
  • To view the full text of the bill, see H.R.1000
  • A copy of a Q&A describing the provisions of the bill can be accessed here.
S. 2457 and H.R. 4278 (the Federal Job Guarantee Development Act of 2019)
  • Companion bills originally introduced in 2018 by Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman.
  • If enacted, the legislation would direct the Department of Labor (DOL) to fund up to 15 locally designed and administered job-guarantee pilot programs.
  • To be approved, the unemployment rate in the area served by a local program would have to equal at least 150% of the unemployment rate in the nation as a whole.
  • Local programs could be proposed in such areas by a political subdivision of a state, an Indian Tribe, or a combination of contiguous political subdivisions or Tribal entities.
  • In awarding grants the Secretary of Labor would be required to consider diversity in geographic location, urban-rural composition, and the political entity that is seeking funding (to ensure representation in the program of Tribal entities).
  • Federal government agencies would also be reimbursed out of program funds for jobs they provide through the program in localities where the pilot programs operate.
  • To be eligible for program employment a person would have to be at least 18 years of age and reside in the area served by the sponsoring entity as of the date the entity submitted its application for program funding.
  • All funded programs would be required to ensure that any resident of the area they serve who applies for a job through the program will be provided with one.
  • No program funds could be used to employ individuals who would replace or lead to the displacement of existing employees, existing positions, or to disrupt existing contracts or collective bargaining agreements.
  • The minimum wage rates paid each class of program employee would equal the higher of the prevailing wage rates paid to that class of workers in the locality where the program operates or the wage rates called for in a collective bargaining agreement that covers the employees in question.
  • Required benefits would include—
    • health insurance benefits comparable to those offered Federal employees,
    • paid family leave consistent with the provisions of the FAMILY Act (S. 463) sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (which provides for a monthly benefit equaling 75% of an employee’s average monthly earnings prorated (roughly) for the number of days the employee devotes to activities that would entitle them to unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act), and
    • paid sick leave consistent with the provisions of the Healthy Families Act (S. 840) sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (which mandates that covered employers provide 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours an employee works).
  • Program funding could also be used to provide program employees with adult education and literacy activities and supportive services such as transportation, child care, dependent care, housing,  and other need-related payments.
  • Up to 8 weeks of paid job training and other services would be provided to program employees to ensure their ability to perform their duties.
  • To view the full text of the bill, see S.2457 and H.R.4278
H.R. 2358 (the 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps Act)
  • First introduced in 2010 by Rep. Marcy Kaptur
  • If enacted, the legislation would establish an updated version of the New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps.
  • Program administration would be determined by the President and could involve a variety of Federal departments and agencies with an interest in the forestation of Federal and state lands; plant pest and disease control; the prevention of forest fires, floods, and soil erosion; the construction, maintenance and repair of paths, trails and fire-lanes on public lands;, and other similar activities.
  • Work on land owned by a political subdivision of a state or private parties could be undertaken on a cooperative basis consistent with the goals of the activities listed above.
  • All citizens of the United States who are otherwise unemployed or underemployed would be eligible for program employment.
  • If there is inadequate funding to employ all eligible individuals, preference will be given in the following order of priority:
    • unemployed veterans,
    • unemployed individuals who have exhausted their entitlement to unemployment insurance,
    • unemployed citizens who are eligible for Unemployment Compensation benefits,
    • other citizens.
  • Persons employed in the program may be provided housing, subsistence goods, clothing, medical attendance, hospitalization, cash allowances, and transportation.
  • Appropriation of $16 billion included in the bill along with an authorization for the President to use unobligated funds that have been previously appropriated for public works to augment the program’s appropriation.
  • To view the full text of the bill, see H.R.2358

Questions? Thoughts? Ideas?  Leave a comment or a question about this article on the NJFAN blog (see comment form at the bottom of page).

Philip Harvey is Professor of Law and Economics at Rutgers Law School where he teaches labor, employment and social welfare law. He serves as counsel to the Board of the NJFAN.

Jobs for All: A Manifesto

Imagine a country:

  • Where everyone who wants to work has a living-wage job.
  • Where no one needs to cobble together multiple jobs to make ends meet.
  • Where joblessness and its consequences no longer exist.
  • Where millions are working in concert to heal our environment, rebuild our physical and care infrastructure, and renew our public art.
  • Where the basic right to a job is at last guaranteed.

We face a crisis of economic insecurity. At this moment of economic and ecological upheaval, when pervasive economic insecurity and racial exclusion exist alongside concentrated wealth and a sweltering planet, the United States needs a strategy to build an economy that produces economic security and dignity for all.

A federal Job Guarantee is our way forward. By ensuring every person who wants to work can find a good job meeting vital community needs, a federal Job Guarantee can be the cornerstone of an inclusive, thriving, and sustainable 21st century American economy.

Join us in calling for a federal Job Guarantee – our path to an American economy centered around human value. Show your commitment to a Job Guarantee by signing this Jobs for All Manifesto.

  • National Jobs for All Network
  • PolicyLink
  • Modern Money Network[Plus many other signatories!   Visit www.JobGuaranteeNow.org to see full list]

BACKGROUND

THE NEED

The inability to provide good jobs for all even in the best of times is a key failure of the American economy—one that reinforces inequities, squanders human potential, and takes a tremendous toll on society. Despite a booming economy, millions of workers remain jobless or underemployed, more than 40 percent of workers earn less than $15/hour, and 40 percent of Americans cannot afford a $400 emergency. This is neither sustainable nor necessary. From Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s inclusion of guaranteed living-wage work in his Second Bill of Rights, to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King’s call for guaranteed jobs in the fight for racial and economic justice, to the call by environmental justice advocates for a Job Guarantee in the Green New Deal, visionary leaders know a Job Guarantee is a potent solution.

THE BENEFITS

Good jobs for all would become our reality. With a Job Guarantee, the devastating experience of not finding work would become obsolete. People facing discrimination in the job market would have an alternative to going without or going underground. Workers would no longer be stuck in jobs where they are harassed or unsafe, or where they experience wage theft. No workers would need to toil in poverty-wage jobs with unstable and disruptive schedules. Poverty, racial and gender inequity, and working poverty would all decline. And when the next downturn hits, workers could take up guaranteed jobs, moderating the effects of the recession for everyone.

We could revitalize communities and counter climate change. A Job Guarantee would make it possible to meet neglected community needs and manifest community aspirations. It could deliver on the environmental restoration and energy-efficiency projects needed to address climate change. It could help meet our demands for elder care for our aging population, strengthen our child care infrastructure, and support our public school teachers. It could make public art accessible to all and bring new resources and hope to hard-hit local economies. And a Job Guarantee removes a major barrier to countering our environmental crisis: fear of job loss.

Signed,

National Jobs for All Network
PolicyLink
Modern Money Network

[list in formation – see full list at:  www.JobGuaranteeNow.org ]

TAKE ACTION:  If you agree with the statement, please Endorse Jobs for All: A Manifesto by filling out this form.  We’ll list you and/or your organization as a supporter, and keep in touch with you as proposals for a federal Job Guarantee move forward.

LEARN MORE:

The Third Attempt to Achieve a Federal Job Guarantee: What Will It Take?

By Trudy Goldberg

Twice since World War II Congress has seriously considered a federal job guarantee or, as Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed in his landmark Economic or Second Bill of Rights, “the right to a useful and remunerative job.” Roosevelt considered this assurance of living-wage employment the “first and most fundamental” economic right, because it is the “one on which the fulfillment of the others” —to education, health care, housing, and social security—”in large part depends.”

With an end to the Second World War in sight, the Senate passed, by a large majority, the Murray-Wagner Full Employment Bill of 1945.  It was a propitious time for putting an end to the scourge of unemployment. Wartime full employment had greatly benefited the civilian population, and demobilization and the loss of wartime spending threatened a return to the disastrous Great Depression of the preceding decade.  A year later, a more conservative House of Representatives eviscerated the Senate’s commitment to full employment—partly because the feared return to Depression levels of unemployment had not occurred. What emerged from the Conference Committee of the two Houses of Congress was the Employment Act of 1946—with “full employment” significantly absent from its title.

Nearly three decades after this first try, Congress again raised the full employment banner.  In June 1974, Reps. Augustus Hawkins (D-CA) and Henry Reuss (D-MI) introduced the Equal Opportunity and Full Employment Bill. Soon after, former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Humbert Humphrey introduced an identical bill in the Senate.  These bills included an enforceable guarantee of paid employment, a key goal of current job-guarantee proposals. Most of the needed jobs were to be created through an expansionary economic policy and an expansion of the CETA Public Service Employment Program, with the shortfall made up through federally financed employment in a standby Jobs Corps that would undertake projects designed by local planning councils. The legislation enacted by Congress four years later—The Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1978—had full employment in its title but in name only. The Act included a mandate to strive for its achievement after reaching an interim goal of 4% overall unemployment within five years and 3% unemployment for individuals aged 25 and above. But the act included no language permitting suit to be brought against the President or Congress if these goals were not achieved, and even nominal adherence to the bill’s goals was abandoned during the double-dip recession of 1981-1983. At the five-year mark following the enactment of the bill, unemployment stood at 9.6%, more than twice the interim goal of 4% set forth in the act..

How do we account for the failure, despite high-profile Congressional leadership, of these two initially-promising attempts to legislate a commitment to the achievement of full employment? There are a number of possible explanations. One reason was insufficient presidential leadership. President  Harry Truman supported full employment but failed to provide strong and effective leadership for the full employment bill. President Jimmy Carter was lukewarm to full employment, only endorsing it as a nod to left and minority constituencies during his 1976 campaign for the presidency.  The price of his endorsement of the 1978 version was flexibility regarding the achievement of the legislation’s employment and price stability goals—meaning he didn’t want to be obliged to meet them.

Another reason that played a particularly prominent role in undermining political support for the Humphrey-Hawkins bill was the collapse of confidence in the Keynesian full employment strategy during the 1970s as a result of the so-called “stagflation” crisis characterized by simultaneously occurring high rates of unemployment and inflation. Progressives had no agreed answer to the question of whether the Humphrey-Hawkins bill would drive inflation rates higher and, if so, how full employment could be achieved without aggravating the problem of inflation. This eased the way for conservative advocates of “price stability” to compromise the bill’s commitment to full employment by adding to it a commitment to reduce the rate of inflation to 3% after five years and thereafter to zero.

Finally, and crucially, both the 1940s and 1970s legislative effort failed because of the absence of a mass movement or mobilization pushing for full employment legislation. The fight over the bill was fought mainly in the halls of Congress rather than the streets, and the lack of popular pressure from outside the halls of Congress made it easier for the back-room interests that drive the conservative policy agenda to exert their influence over the legislative process.  These political actors viewed full employment as a recipe for rising wages, the promotion of workplace rights, and a relaxation of discipline over the nation’s workforce. A mass movement was needed to overcome this resistance, not just a politically popular proposal.

Public opinion supports the achievement of true full employment, but that does not automatically translate into support for job guarantee legislation. For example, in September 1945, a poll conducted by the non-partisan National Opinion Research Center (NORC) found that 79% of those polled thought it should be up to the government to see to it that there are enough jobs in this country for everybody who wants to work.  However, a July 1945 poll of an Illinois congressional district in which 83% were in favor of a bill resembling the Senate version of full employment, found that only 17% had ever heard of that full-employment bill. This is not to say that the bill’s advocates in Congress made no attempt to mobilize political support for it on the part of progressive organizations, but there was no significant effort to organize public support for the bill.

Efforts at mass mobilization were  greater the second time around, in the 1970s. Especially important was the establishment of the National Committee for Full Employment/Full Employment Action Council, co-led by Coretta Scott King  and Murray Finley, head of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union. The Council brought together leaders in liberal, labor, religious, civil rights, women’s and senior citizens’ organizations–but not the AFL-CIO until the legal guarantee of a job was removed.  The Full Employment Action Council remained largely Washington-based until grassroots organizing began in 1976, with major stimulus from the National Council of Churches, which held conferences not only nationally but at the regional level in a number of cities. The Full Employment Action Council organized a Full Employment Action Week in 1977 that mobilized more than 1.5 million people in protests and actions in 300 cities. Sixty thousand people turned out to rally in Buffalo, but there were no mass demonstrations in Washington—nothing comparable to the mass mobilizations in the 1930s or the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War demonstrations of the preceding decade.

Advocates of a third attempt to achieve a federal job guarantee have their  work cut out for them. We will need to build a mass movement comparable to earlier mass mobilizations supporting  the expansion of civil, political, and economic rights. This time, though, the struggle for a Job Guarantee has an important advantage: the likely partnership of a mass environmental rights movement.  Why?  First, because a Job Guarantee removes a formidable barrier to coping with the climate crisis—the fear of job loss and the lack of an adequate strategy for ensuring that job losers are compensated for their loss with jobs where they live, not just a thousand miles away. Second, a Job Guarantee would contribute a large pool of additional resources to help tackle the transition to a sustainable economy. An updated version of the original New Deal strategy that used programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Works Progress Administration (WPA) to enrich the nation with an abundance of public goods and services in the midst of the worst depression in the nation’s history.  Today’s Job Guarantee proposals are designed to form an integral part of a Green New Deal.

Job Guarantee Advocates must work with potential allies and constituencies for full employment to build a movement strong enough to achieve the economic right to living-wage work and the right to a sustainable environment. This newsletter is one way to inform the public and to unite potential advocates.  The Jobs for All Manifesto is another means of spreading the word and gaining the awareness of the job guarantee alternative to unemployment and the environmental crisis.  Please help to spread the word.

Questions? Thoughts? Ideas?  Leave a comment or a question about this article on the NJFAN blog (see comment form at the bottom of page).

Trudy Goldberg is Professor Emerita of Social Work at Adelphi  University; Co-chair of the Columbia University Seminar on Full Employment, Social Welfare and Equity; and Chair of the National Jobs for All Network (formerly “Coalition”). For a fuller account of previous efforts to enact a Job Guarantee, see the author’s article, “Trying Again for Full Employment.”

The Full Count: December 2019 Unemployment Data

Officially unemployed: 5.8 million (3.5%)

Hidden unemployment: 8.9 million
(Includes 4.1 million people working part-time
because they can’t find a full-time job;
and 4.8 million people who want jobs,
but are not actively looking)

Total: 14.7 million (8.7% of the labor force)

There are 2.0 job-wanters for each available job!

For more information and analysis, visit: www.njfac.org

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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The National Jobs for All Network is dedicated to the propositions that meaningful employment is a precondition for a fulfilling life, and that every person capable of working should have the right to a job.

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.

National Jobs for All Network
P.O. Box 96
Lynbrook, NY 11563
203-856-3877
Web: www.njfac.org
Email: [email protected]

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