After learning on February 18 that February 19 was the deadline for submitting proposed workshops to the 2014 Netroots Nation conference, I told the Jobs for All Campaign email list, “I would probably be able to participate if needed, but I am not inclined to submit a proposal or take the lead. Please let us know if you plan to submit one.” I also asked Living Wage Report subscribers, “Might any of you want to jump on this real quick? The deadline is tomorrow. I could help recruit a panel.” Not have received any indication by 12 Noon the next day that anyone was able and willing to take this on, I proceeded to work on the submission, while consulting with Jennry Perrino, Legislative Aid to Congressman John Conyers, Jr.
After receiving confirmation that Congressman Conyers would be “definitely available” to participate in a 75-minute panel discussion July 17-20, I submitted a proposal that the conference host a session on “How to Achieve Full Employment: Human Rights, Morality, and Organizing Strategies.” Kazi Sabeel Rahman, a Fellow at Harvard Law School and the Roosevelt Institute, is also on board as “tentatively available.” Rahman has written eloquently on law, economics, and morality. I’ve also invited Claudia Horwitz and Taj James to serve on the panel.
The workshop description states:
America is currently witnessing a jobless recovery, leaving millions of Americans unemployed, underemployed, or unable to meet basic life necessities. Grassroots action has played a significant role in improving labor and employment conditions historically, yet the aftermath of the recent Great Recession has not seen an outpouring of activity advocating for improvement in working conditions and demanding full employment. This workshop will address how and why we must work together to achieve full employment by engaging activists and political leaders. It will focus on the underlying human right of employment, the need for a moral approach to the economy, and the potential value of organizing methods that minimize unhelpful patterns, maximize positive impacts, and enable activists to steadily support each other in learning how to collaborate more effectively.
The envisioned takeaways are:
As the middle class shrinks, more Americans appreciate the need for economic security. Assuring living-wage full employment will benefit everyone. The positive benefits will spread throughout society, resulting in less divisiveness and greater progress on other issues, including reduced criminal activity and greater concern for the environment. Americans will focus more on the quality of life and fulfilling their potential. This issue provides the opportunity for helping to forge a broad coalition of many diverse constituencies. This workshop will clarify how to frame the issue and engage in effective organizing to help the United States live up to its ideals.
The questions to be addressed include:
Question 1* How can we achieve “full employment” and must it be tied to a specific unemployment rate?
Question 2* Is living-wage employment a human right and if so what is the role of government to protect it?
Question 3* In this modern era, what are the best means to activate Americans to push for full employment?
It will be several weeks before we know if the proposal is accepted.