SUPPLEMENT 1, Summer 2008
The Drive for Decent Work*: The Heart of the Coalition’s
The current, major project of the National Jobs for All Coalition
is the Drive for Decent Work (http://www.njfac.org/sharedpros.pdf).
The Drive for Decent Work carries forward the concern for both
public investment and job creation that were part of our response
to Hurricane Katrina, and its rationale includes the Coalition’s
ongoing effort to “tell the whole story of unemployment”—a
problem much larger than the number of jobless reported by the
In developing the rationale for the Drive for Decent Work, the
Coalition calls attention to the nation’s “double
deficits”: One deficit is the chronic and sometimes acute
shortage of jobs for all who want to work. The second deficit
is the neglect of public investment in our physical and human
infrastructure—the neglect of child, elder and health care,
education, housing; of public transit, bridges, levees, schools
and other infrastructure; of renewable energy and energy efficient
production; and of environmental sustainability.
An important feature of the Coalition’s Drive for Decent
Work is its identification of numerous proposals, including legislation
pending in Congress, that would begin the task of reconstruction
and simultaneously create millions of jobs.
To reduce the “double deficits” in jobs and public
investment the Coalition’s Drive for Decent work urges the
- Support of a package of bills already introduced in Congress
and other proposals that both meet unmet public needs and create
millions of stay-in the-US jobs;
- Additional public investment that would close whatever job
gap remained in the economy without adding to inflation or competing
with private employers who offer decent work;
- Steps to make the minimum wage a living wage by raising it
to its 1968 level (equal to $9.25 an hour in 2007) and thereafter
linking it to 60% of the average wage.
Start-up costs of this program can be met by reducing military
spending to a level reflecting genuine defense needs (including
ending a war that bleeds this nation in both lives and treasure),
and rescinding the tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations that
are depleting the public treasury.
Paying for public investment and job creation will require some
reallocation of government spending, especially at first, but
in the longer run it would not cost us more than we are currently
spending in maintaining a partly idle work force and in responding
to the many social ills that joblessness creates. The unemployed
would become taxpayers, and the economy less prone to costly recessions.
[See Philip Harvey’s “Responding To Rising Unemployment:
Can We Afford Jobs for All?” Uncommon Sense
Public investment is indispensable to greater national prosperity
and a sustainable economy.
Here are some of the steps that the Coalition has taken to gain
support of this Drive for Decent Work by the general public, organizations
and public officials.
- Publication of a booklet, Shared
Prosperity and the Drive for Decent Work, that details
the “double deficit,” defines the concept of “decent
work,” explains the four steps that comprise the program,
identifies the pending legislation and proposals that both create
jobs and invest in infrastructure and services, establishes
criteria for evaluating job creation proposals and points to
other necessary and complementary policies that would contribute
to “shared prosperity,” that is, both reduction
of economic inequality and a more effective, sustainable economy.
This publication can also be obtained as hard copy from the
- Preparation of calls to action in English
Happened to Shared Prosperity? -– that briefly explain
the Drive for Decent Work and invite the participation of individuals
and organizations,. These too are also available from the Coalition
in hard copy.
- Co-signed a letter with the National Council of Churches and
Americans for Democratic Action sent to several hundred members
of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives who were identified
as prospective advocates of the Drive for Decent Work The letter
briefly described the project and specifically urged their support
for job creation legislation already introduced in Congress.
We emphasized the relevance of this proposal to a genuine stimulus
package. The letter included the leaflet Whatever
Happened to Shared Prosperity?.
- Urged leading contenders for the presidential nominations
to support of the Drive for Decent Work with its simultaneous
attack on the “double deficits.”
- Began efforts to gain the endorsement of organizations likely
to support the Drive for Decent Work, including those that have
supported legislation to create jobs and increase public investment.
This has included writing descriptions of the project for organizational
newsletters and presentations at meetings, conferences and other
- Wrote articles to promulgate the program: “Flagging
Economy Needs Public Investment" (The Progressive Populist,
/1/2008) argued for job creation and significant public investment
as a genuine stimulus package. “Decent
Work and Public Investment” (New Labor Forum,
Spring 2008) was specifically addressed to the campaign for
the presidency, and written at the suggestion of New York Central
Labor Council Executive Director Ed Ott.
- Established a blog, The
Drive for Decent Work. To comment on posts on this
blog, you may visit http://fullemployment.blogspot.com/ and
click on Comments at the end of each post.
We ask that you support the Coalition with your valuable opinions,
outreach to neighbors and political people about our Decent Work
proposal, and financial contributions. Please fill out the brief,
enclosed questionnaire that will give NJFAC your reactions
to its Drive for Decent work—a new project that unites the
goals of many other progressive organizations and that, we hope,
will be a turning point in our joint quest for economic justice.
And please give generously to support NJFAC’s new initiative.
Learning from History: An NJFAC Powerpoint Presentation
The Coalition is editing and testing with selected audiences
a powerpoint presentation, Learning from History: How
the Drive for Decent Work Would Reduce Our Current Economic Problems.
Intended for students and a wide range of organizations—from
religious to political, this presentation is an attempt to provide
historical perspective on the American economy. Drawing on a wide
range of scholarly sources, it provides lay audiences with an
understanding of current economic problems and at the same time
makes a compelling case for a solution that features living wage
jobs for all. For more details on its availability, on Coalition
speakers or experts to provide assistance to presenters, write
to the Coalition at njfac [at] njfac.org
E-mail List for Jobs for All information:
The Coalition has established GoodJobs, an announcements list
consisting of occasional messages and information on employment,
wages, inequality and other issues related to jobs for all at
decent pay. To join GoodJobs and receive these announcement, go
to http://www.njfac.org, scroll to the bottom and enter your email
address in the box "Subscribe to goodjobs."
Website News: Measuring Job Vacancies and Full
Employment. How long has it been since you visited our much-praised
and much-used website? We call your attention to an addition to
our monthly unemployment update. The NJFAC Website now reports
Job Vacancies. These monthly data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
show that there are far too few job vacancies for jobless workers--even
if we confine the comparison to that notorious undercount, officially
Using monthly job vacancy figures, NJFAC has created a Full
Employment Indicator that compares total joblessness—official
plus hidden unemployment or “job wanters”—to
job vacancies. Each month NJAC’s Website will post this
Full Employment Indicator to show how close or far we are from
the goal stated many years ago by Sir William Beveridge, the English
economist who promoted a full employment ideal: “more job
seekers than available jobs.”
Look to our web site, too, for monthly data on wages and mass
layoffs. It is also a place to brush up on some important economic
issues, like updates on inequality, the minimum wage or becoming
knowledgeable about Social Security and its critics. We include
reactions to the yearly Social Security Trustees’ Reports.
When the fight on Social Security heats up again, it will be the
place to go for critical assessments.
Almost from its inception, the Coalition has built ties to advocates
of full employment in other countries, some of whom have served
on the NJFAC Advisory Board. This September will mark a third
time at which a member of the Coalition’s Executive Committee
has attended and presented a paper at the annual workshop of the
EuroMemorandum Group in Brussels. This organization of economists
that favors alternative economic policies in Europe has, like
NJFAC, crafted job creation proposals that are at the same time
public investments in social housing, restructured transportation
systems, urban refurbishment, renewable energy, and vital social
services such as child and elder care. A paper presented at the
EuroMemorandum Workshop in 2006 was a report of a survey of 50
presumed advocates of full employment in North America, Europe
and Australia A version
of this paper that serves as a brief introduction to thinking
about the meaning and prospects for full employment was published
in the November 2007 issue of the Journal of Economic Issues).
NJFAC Advisory Board and Executive Committee news
Two new members of the Coalition’s Advisory Board are
Robert Pollin, Professor of Economics and co-director
of the Political Economy Research Institute at UMass Amherst.
Professor Pollin gave the Memorial Lecture
for NJFAC’s founding member and Vice President, Professor
Sumner Rosen, that was jointly sponsored by the Columbia University
Seminars Program and the Coalition.
Frank Stricker, Emeritus Professor of History
at CSU-Dominguez Hills and author of Why America Lost the
War on Poverty--And How to Win It
The new members or officers of the Coalition’s Executive
Charles Bell is Vice Chairman and Legislative
Chair of the Coalition’s Executive Committee. A founding
member of the Coalition and frequent speaker and writer, Chuck
Bell is Programs Director, Consumers Union .
Harvey Baylis is Secretary/Treasurer. A long-time
member and activist of the Coalition, Harvey Baylis has been a
leader in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation and Gray Panthers,
both in Queens, NY.
Susan Bendor, Associate Professor, Wurzweiler
School of Social Work, Yeshiva University, specializes in gerontology
and coping with loss throughout the life span (including unemployment).
She chairs several social action committees on boards of non-profit
Marguerite Rosenthal, Professor of Social Work,
Salem State College, is the author of articles on privatization,
child welfare and the Swedish welfare state. She has been associated
with Grassroots Leadership (headquartered in Charlotte, NC) as
a Research Fellow.
Frank Stricker, see above, Advisory Board.
Rev. Marcel Welty, a long-time advisor to the
Coalition, is Associate for Research and Planning and Technical
and Database Administrator at the National Council of Churches
USA. He is involved in curricula, electronic resources, and policy
statements on diverse subjects, such as genetic technology, the
public health crisis, economic justice, and immigration policy
for use by religious leaders, policy advocates, policy-active
congregations, and local non-profit agencies. He is also Associate
Editor of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.
*Decent Work is a concept introduced and advocated
by the International Labour Organization (ILO) of the United Nations.
Decent work includes not only the promotion of full, productive
employment but also a range of other key elements such as gender
equality, social security, safety at work, social dialogue, a
fair income and social protection for families. Thus, it is very
close to the Coalition’s definition of full employment.
Decent Work includes much, but not all, of what we mean by Shared
Prosperity in the 21st Century. We are proud to join the ILO in
promoting decent work. This is how Sumner Rosen, our late vice
president, described Decent Work:
… the central principle …
clear, practical, difficult but achievable. It lays the groundwork
for a global economy that will deserve to be called one of the
great historic achievements, a renaissance worthy of the highest
praise that history and humanity can provide.
National Jobs for All Coalition is a project of the Council on
Public and International Affairs.