Beyond the Beltway

March 30, 2012 -- Leslie Moody

Waging campaigns across the country on behalf of working families, we are keenly aware that connecting national outrage with broad-based local movements is the key to change.  Already in 2012 we have seen major victories where civic leaders are standing up and changing the way our cities do business.

Community Benefits Victory Key To New Jobs

In January, we joined our partner LAANE in hailing the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority’s passage of a groundbreaking Project Labor Agreement and Benefits Policy.  The agreement promises to create thousands of new jobs and opportunity for local-hire of disadvantaged and low-income workers.

The success was hard fought.  Local elected leaders heard the call for smart policy that meets the needs of workers and community members.  LAANE’s engagement and ongoing commitment is resulting in real change and increased opportunity for Angelenos and setting the pace for major infrastructure investments around the country.

In February, a year-long campaign resulted in unanimous passage of a community benefits and comprehensive local-hire policy for the redevelopment of the Oakland Army Base.  Oakland City Council has embraced a powerful vision that values local job opportunities for community residents, in partnership with building trades apprenticeship programs.  This victory was realized through East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy’s broad-based organizing approach in building Revive Oakland, a powerful coalition that is translating this massive project into new pathways for unemployed residents.

From construction development to ports and airports, our Partners are standing up to inequity and building alliances to call for fair treatment and shared opportunity.

Confronting Exploitation and Misclassification

The abusive and dangerous treatment of truck drivers at the Port of Seattle put Puget Sound SAGE at the center of building support for drivers.  SAGE convened a powerful coalition that worked to keep the public spotlight on bad employer practices by companies like the Toll Group. The actions led to a shut-down of the Seattle port and generated national news and attention to the complaints of the drivers.

In the Southwest, CASE  has been standing up to the mistreatment and misclassification of low-wage workers at the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport.  Our Arizona partner supported custodial workers in holding GCA Services accountable for unfairly treating workers at the bottom of their corporate ladder.

While the national custodial services company collected $8.5M from the City of Phoenix to clean Sky Harbor Airport, GCA Services unfairly fired janitors for seeking better work conditions.  Organizing an online petition and other media actions, CASE generated awareness of how custodial workers exposed to harsh chemicals while cleaning were denied access to basic healthcare, reasonable sick leave and, unfairly terminated.  Favorable decisions by the National Labor Relations Board led to their jobs being reinstated with pay for lost wages.

From Seattle to New York, our Partners are challenging the corporate greed that extracts profits at the expense of families, workers and the environment.

Sharing Successful Strategies to Build Power

Last October, we gathered 200 strong for our Reclaim the Future conference, inspiring and sharing strategies, stories of success and lessons learned from across the country.  We closed with a challenge from Secretary Hilda Solis to ignore the politics of the election year and to press forward in creating opportunities for quality jobs, fighting exploitative practices.

Traveling around the country, outside the beltway echo chamber, I see our Partners meeting this call with incredible momentum.  Together we are moving creative and smart campaigns to champion quality jobs without sacrificing the health of our communities and environment. This is the heart of the work of the Partnership for Working Families.

Translating the energy from the streets into actionable, economic strategies that are grounded in our shared values is inspiring and offers a new hope for our cities.  We are on the ground engaging new voices and allies to reshape the way our country does business.  Educating and mobilizing powerful coalitions, ensuring that public resources are spent in the public interest, not in the interest of corporate shareholders.  This is how we reclaim our cities and make our economy work for everyone.

Our 2012 successes have already inspired and impacted the lives of thousands.  We are looking forward to a year full of action and impact, sustained by the values of justice, fairness and opportunity for all.

In Solidarity,
Leslie Moody