We write to you with a modicum of relief—that the mid-term elections were–if not a victory for democracy–a setback for the enemies of freedom and economic justice.
The January 6th attack on the Nation’s Capitol and the assault on voting rights are partly a result of the growing economic inequality and deterioration of workplace rights that have made American workers vulnerable to the false promises of the enemies of democracy. A vigorous movement for economic justice and a reversal of the growing, egregious inequality of the last 50 years is essential–more than ever–to political as well as economic rights.
Good News. We are pleased to announce to you, our supporters, that NJFAN is better positioned than ever to play a leadership role in preserving and expanding economic and political democracy. Why?
NJFAN is the beneficiary of a generous bequest from our co-founder and distinguished proponent of full employment—Professor Helen Lachs Ginsburg. As a result, we are able to expand our work very substantially and to place greater emphasis on such goals as– increasing the quality as well as the quantity of jobs. Our goal is the guarantee of good, living-wage jobs. It is time to put an end to the inability of millions of full-time workers to afford decent housing– just to name one of the shameful examples of American economic inequality.
In announcing the expansion of our work, we also call attention to the progress we have made over the past year. Under the leadership of Board member and economist Philip Harvey, we have revised and substantially improved HR 1000, the Jobs for All Act—the only Job Guarantee legislation introduced in Congress in the last decade. We will soon announce a chief sponsor of the revised legislation.
Our bimonthly NJFAN Newsletter, now in its third year, continues with analyses of economic issues; reports of NJFAN actions; book reviews of works on such subjects as the current state of the labor movement, history of unemployment, and reparations; and profiles of progressive advocates. And we always include our signature Full Count of Unemployment—one that is more than double the official unemployment rate of the Department of Labor. Historian Frank Stricker’s incisive analyses of the Labor Department’s monthly employment reports are in the Newsletter and posted on Facebook and Twitter.
A lead article in the August issue of the NJFAN Newsletter highlighted the role that FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights can play in a movement for economic rights—with the job guarantee as the “first and most fundamental” economic right and the reciprocal relationship among achievement of the employment right and that of rights to education, health care, housing, and environmental sustainability. We are proud that our Newsletter articles are regularly reprinted in other news outlets. And with our increased resources we hope to expand the circulation of this contribution to progressive political discourse.
Our Town Meetings Project is another initiative we intend to expand. Under the leadership of Outreach Coordinator Logan Martinez, we have spread our full employment messages with Town Meetings in three cities—Dayton-Columbus, Memphis, and New Haven–the latter chaired by Executive Committee member Professor Stephen Monroe Tomczak. That project, begun in 2021, continues with a proposal for a Connecticut Jobs Program and the formation of a Jobs and Human Rights Task force to advance the struggle of full employment at the state and federal levels. We are in the process of evaluating this project and determining whether to seek resources for expanding it to other cities. We are proud that interns from Southern Connecticut University School of Social Work have been assigned to the New Haven Town Meeting and to other outreach work of NJFAN.
Continuing our work on a Jobs for All program for New York City—when we worked with staff of then New York Public Advocate Letitia James to design a NYC Job Guarantee, Executive Committee member Noreen Connell researched employment conditions in the City at the beginning of the term of Mayor Eric Adams. The result: a letter to Mayor Adams followed by an op-ed in the New York Daily News this spring in which Connell was joined by Executive Committee member Alan Aja and myself: “The problem, Mr. Mayor, is too few jobs — not too little access.”
NJFAN remains closely affiliated with the Columbia University Seminar on Full Employment, Social Welfare, and Equity which has been chaired by NJFAN leaders since it began in 1987. The Seminar is a forum for issues pertaining to full employment and related economic rights. This year’s seminars included a presentation by Bertha Lewis, ACORN leader and current President of The Black Institute, whose subject was “How Do We Ensure Fairness in Creating Jobs?” “Privatizing Medicare” was the topic of Leonard Rodberg, Professor emeritus of Urban Studies, Queens College, and Research Director of the New York Metro Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program (paper available on the NJFAN website). A post-midterm elections forum–led by Seminar co-chair Andres Bernal, Research Fellow, Global Institute For Sustainable Prosperity–featured two young activists: community organizer Denisce Palacios of Texas Rising which leads voter registration and issue-based organizing in the Rio Grande Valley and Ilona Duverge, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Movement School, a training institute for organizers fighting on behalf of working-class communities.
Your support is more vital than ever. The Ginsburg bequest enables us to greatly expand our reach, but it will not last forever. To maintain this higher level of achievement, we need your continuing–and more generous– support as well as substantial expansion of our constituency and increased revenue sources. We invite your suggestions regarding our expansion–as well as your generous support.
With our good wishes for the New Year,
Gertrude (Trudy) Schaffner Goldberg
P.S.. You can make both tax-deductible donations and unrestricted (non-taxable) donations through the NJFAN website, www.njfac.org or in the enclosed envelope.