New Haven Town Hall Brings Together Activists from Across Connecticut to Work for a Federal Job Guarantee

   

by Stephen Monroe Tomczak and Sarianna Sabbarese

The National Jobs for All Network (NJFAN), in collaboration with numerous local organizations representing branches of the broader movement for social and economic justice, sponsored a Town Hall in New Haven Connecticut on September 29, 2021.  Among the co-sponsoring organizations were the Connecticut Chapter of the Social Welfare Action Alliance (SWAA); the Southern Connecticut State University Social Work Department; the Greater New Haven Peace Council; the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs; Medicare 4 All – CT; and Ice the Beef New Haven.

Organized by NJFAN Outreach Committee

The New Haven Town Hall was organized by the National Jobs for All Outreach Committee, led by NJFAN Outreach Coordinator Logan Martinez.  New Haven based Committee members Dr. Stephen Monroe Tomczak and graduate student Sarianna Sabbarese of the Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) Social Work and Women’s and Gender Studies Departments recruited speakers and organized publicity for the event. Dr. Tomczak, a faculty member at SCSU specializing in social policy, acted as the emcee for the event, and Ms. Sabbarese spoke as a representative of the SCSU SWAA student chapter, of which she is the chief organizer.  In her Ms. Sabbarese described the event as having two purposes: first, to support and promote NJFAN in its efforts to establish a federal Job Guarantee.  She described the second and more long-range goal as an ongoing and intersectional conversation among groups, organizations, and institutions:

We tend to spend our limited time and other resources in one place in order to have as much focused impact as we can.  But with this event, we want to destroy the silos that keep us from engaging directly with one another.  It’s important that we hear from one another, celebrate each other’s work, and think about the ways everybody else’s efforts connect to our own…. We are all fighting together, in different ways, for equity and justice.

Speakers Emphasize Impact of a Job Guarantee on Wide Range of Economic Justice Goals

The Town Meeting kicked off with a warm welcome from NJFAN chairperson, Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg, who contextualized the event in the broader history of the struggle for full employment. The keynote address by nationally known expert on employment policy, Professor Philip Harvey, Professor of Law and Economics at  Rutgers University, focused on the impact of a federal Job Guarantee on a variety of important measures of human wellbeing.

Professor Harvey’s address was followed by speakers representing various organizations, each of whom emphasized the importance of the achievement of a federal Job Guarantee to their advocacy of economic and social justice.  Among those who addressed the 50 or so attendees of this virtual event were Kim Hart of Mothers and Others for Justice who called attention to the intersections between the need for jobs and efforts to address food insecurity; Holly Hackett of Medicare 4 All – CT who showed single payer health care could be enhanced by a federal Job Guarantee; and Dr. Henry Lowendorf of the New Haven Peace Council who showed how full employment policies would support a shift away from the war economy.

Several speakers addressed the intersection of immigration and full employment policy, including Rosana G. Ferraro of the Social Welfare Action Alliance, Connecticut and Jonathan Gonzalez-Cruz of Husky 4 Immigrants.  Both noted how the situation of undocumented immigrants, in particular, would be improved by employment guarantees.

Manuel Camacho, a high school student and leader of Ice the Beef raised awareness of the importance of a Job Guarantee to young people.  And at several points in the program, attendees were entertained and enlightened by local labor troubadour, Frank Panzarella, who played some inspiring songs from the labor movement.

The Town Hall closed with a rousing address by State Senator Gary Winfield who exhorted the audience to become active in the policymaking process in order to promote policies that enhance economic security for the state’s population.

Since the New Haven Town Hall, two follow -up meetings have been held to plan strategy to advance the cause of Living-Wage Jobs for All in Connecticut. Participants have included representatives of some of the sponsoring organizations, state legislators, and other advocates and community representatives.  The goal is to advance the cause of full employment at local and state levels as well as contribute to NFJAN’s efforts to enact a federal Job Guarantee at the federal level.

Videos of the New Haven Town Hall:

Part 1:  https://youtu.be/EpepOJX99_o

Part 2: https://youtu.be/c5nwpCnSEo0

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