By Sarianna Sabbarese
November 21, 2023
In our lifetimes, we have seen the rapid deterioration of once robust union protections. Even as social conditions have improved for many, economic disparities grow. Despite artificially low criteria for poverty, the threadbare American social safety net creaks and groans. We watch in anxious horror as a new cast of hard-right chaos agents infiltrate Washington’s highest offices, wondering if democracy is on the brink of collapse. What can we do ― besides shop ― to hop off this doom spiral? Even if we feel driven to create a better future, where do we begin?
In 2021, with these deep concerns in mind, Southern Connecticut State University social work professor Dr. Stephen Monroe Tomczak and I organized a Town Hall Meeting in New Haven, Connecticut. We did this under the aegis of the National Jobs for All Network, which for 30 years has been advocating for federal enactment of Full Employment via a large-scale, direct government job creation program. President Franklin D. Roosevelt referred to this guarantee of “remunerative work” as the “first and most fundamental” economic right in his landmark Economic or Second Bill of Rights.
The New Haven Town Hall explored the economic and social justice work of many different representatives from the New Haven community ― including educators, students, activists, and people with lived experience of the economic and social inequities we seek to reduce. We hold that Full Employment ― meaningful, living wage work for all ― would make addressing the myriad problems created by intersectional oppression significantly more manageable. Despite necessarily limited sets of personal resources and priorities, all who attended this event were engaged in a single, shared project: namely, the construction of a more just and equitable world.
Out of this event, the Connecticut Jobs and Human Rights Task Force was formed. The group is staffed by macro social work practitioners Jennifer Perez and myself; and is advised by Logan Martinez, Outreach Coordinator for the National Jobs For All Network, and Dr. Stephen Monroe Tomczak. The group works to advance the right of people across the state of Connecticut to living wage work, by means of state government creation of human services and sustainable physical infrastructure. We are committed to doing what we can to pave the way for NJFAN’s full employment plan; so that when the time comes, jobs will be created where they are actually needed ― and not merely to serve the interests of wealthy individuals and corporations. As a group built on the supposition that economic justice is the bedrock on which social justice rests, we are committed to interjecting people-oriented priorities into economic policy.
If you are interested in joining the Task Force, please email either Jennifer Perez (jennymperez [at] gmail.com or Sarianna Sabbarese (ssabbarese [at] gmail.com).
Sarianna Sabbarese is an employee of the National Jobs For All Network and co-organizer of the Connecticut Jobs and Human Rights Task Force, working to lay local groundwork for Full Employment. Sarianna holds master’s degrees in social work and women’s and gender studies from Southern Connecticut State University. In addition to her work with NJFAN, she is an advocate and counselor for survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence at The Center for Education and Empowerment (formerly the Women’s Center of Greater Danbury).