By TRUDY GOLDBERG and STEPHEN MONROE TOMCZAK
David Georg Gil, a founding member of the National Jobs for All Network, died on March 6, 2021. He was 96.
Gil was professor of social policy and director of the Center for Social Change at the Brandeis University Heller School, where he was on the faculty for 46 years.
Gil was not only a brilliant theorist and influential social work scholar but also a truly kind and extremely compassionate human being, one who lived out the values he espoused.
David Gil was in the social work tradition of Jane Addams and Lillian Wald, the great settlement leaders who lent aid to the immigrant poor. He bore witness to the downtrodden’s exploitation, and he crusaded for economic and social justice.
His teaching, activism and scholarship were grounded in radical social work, building on the critical perspectives of visionary social work leaders in the early 20 century such as Mary Van Kleeck, Jacob Fisher and Bertha Capen Reynolds, as well as educators such as Paulo Freire.
Gil was a founding member of the National Jobs for All Network (formerly Coalition) who, as a member of our advisory board, influenced our thinking about a constitutional right to living-wage work . He was always available for encouragement and support of our leadership. A colleague at Brandeis of former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, Gil introduced him to our work on behalf of full employment which, in turn, led Reich to lend his name and support to our efforts to broaden our constituency.
Gil’s important contribution to our work, in addition to his continuing support and encouragement of our leaders, was the important recognition that full employment is, in effect, the “Supreme Law” of the United States. Why? In signing the Charter of the United Nations (in 1945), the United States was in effect ratifying a treaty which, according to the country’s constitution, becomes “the Supreme Law of the Land.”
The UN Charter includes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which pledges member states to action in support of full employment and higher standards of living (Articles 55 and 56 of Chapter IX of the charter).
Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg is chair of the National Jobs for All Network. Stephen Monroe Tomczak is a member of NJFAN Board and former student of Professor Gil.