A job that provides good wages, strong benefits, union protections & safe working conditions should be a legal right in America. The people deserve true economic justice, and that is why Ayanna Pressley filed an historic resolution calling for a federal job guarantee.
The idea that all people should have a right to employment that ensures a dignified standard of living has deep roots in American history and remains an unfulfilled demand of the civil rights movement. Amidst the unprecedented pandemic, the employment crisis and a resounding demand for a more equitable economy, the need to affirm the right to meaningful, dignified work and a livable wage has never been clearer.
The right to a “useful and remunerative” job was the first and most fundamental right in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s proposed Economic Bill of Rights. Sadie Alexander, the nation’s first Black economist, advocated a job guarantee to address racial discrimination against Black workers while improving labor market conditions for all workers. Martin Luther King, Jr. called for guaranteed jobs, and Coretta Scott King led a grassroots movement in support of a federal job guarantee.
Federal Job Guarantee
A federal job guarantee would provide every person with an enforceable legal right to a quality job on projects that meet long-neglected community, physical and human infrastructure needs, such as delivering quality care for children and seniors, building and sustaining 21st century transit systems, strengthening neighborhoods, and protecting the environment. Funded by the federal government and implemented locally in partnership with communities, the program would provide public jobs for all adults seeking employment.
By ensuring everyone has access to a good job with dignified wages, safe working conditions, health care and other benefits—including full worker rights and union protections—a federal job guarantee would address the current jobs crisis while laying the foundation for an equitable economic recovery. It would create a pathway to stable employment and begin to close the gaping income and wealth gap for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous workers who continue to face discrimination and are often the “first ones fired, last ones hired” during economic crises. It would also ensure economic inclusion for those experiencing discrimination in the labor market, including people with disabilities, transgender people, caregivers, and people with criminal records or involvement with the criminal legal system. And it would enable the just transition of workers in unsustainable sectors.
A job guarantee would set a new standard for quality jobs, pressuring low-wage employers to increase wages and benefits. By hiring workers in the midst of a downturn, a permanent job guarantee would operate as an automatic stabilizer, maintaining consumer spending and protecting us from prolonged recessions and jobless recoveries — making the economy more resilient as well as more inclusive.
A federal job guarantee is a long-overdue policy that will help us reach true full employment, increase economic security, and reduce racial and gender inequities. It prevents the many social and economic costs of unemployment and invests in people, our communities and the planet. And it is the most powerful reform we can implement to create an equitable, resilient, and sustainable economy that delivers prosperity to all.