By Jennifer Epps, GJLN Organizer
Milwaukee’s residents are in the midst of a devastating crisis hinged on the lack of job opportunities, training, and security at work. Taking a cue from our brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh, the Good Jobs and Livable Neighborhoods Coalition (GJLN) created the Milwaukee Unity Campaign to address these issues in creative and innovative ways. The Unity Campaign is a coalition of local community organizations, labor unions, and residents working together to address the economic crisis facing Milwaukee’s residents.
On March 29th, 2008 the campaign will host its first major organizing event “Rise Up Milwaukee: Rhythm For a Reason” - an evening showcasing local music, food and the work of community campaigns. GJLN is organizing the concert to unify diverse areas of the city in recognition of the common need for family-friendly jobs with good wages, and safe and healthy working conditions, and the right to organize in the workplace.
March 29th will bring together 1000 residents from across the city of Milwaukee to engage them in the major issues that Milwaukee workers face. Musicians, including a national headliner and several local acts, will deliver a common message of worker justice. Attendees will have an opportunity to converse about the issues over a shared meal provided by local businesses. Community organizations will reach out to new volunteers and members through information tables and testimony.
The purpose of the event is three-fold: (1) To engage our constituencies around the common issue of access to good paying jobs with benefits and the right to work free from fear, harassment, intimidation and coercion; (2) To translate that engagement into high voter turnout by our constituencies in the April 1st election. (3) To organize disenfranchised residents around the creation of a Good Jobs Ordinance with an evening that builds community and raise awareness through music, food, and testimony.
We believe that this concert is a creative way to unify and engage residents around the issue of workers’ rights, bringing together residents from different backgrounds in the most racially segregated city in the country. The people we talk to are hungry for policies that put their needs first. Let’s hope the politicians will be listening on the eve of our spring elections.