The Job Guarantee represents a tiger’s leap in the struggle to overcome systemic poverty, discrimination, and exclusion. It is a federally funded, locally operated public program with a mission to furnish every person with access to high quality employment serving their communities and environments. It fits jobs to workers rather than vice-versa as in private sector employment. Contrary to decades of failed trickle-down economics, the Job Guarantee cultivates economic production from the bottom up.
More than sixteen million people living in the U.S. are presently un- or underemployed. Overlooked by official unemployment indicators, such large-scale un- and underemployment not only perpetuates poverty, debt, homelessness, incarceration, and suicide for those without work. It also negatively affects the lives of working people by suppressing worker bargaining power, pushing down wages, enabling exploitation, and reducing the quality of working life for all.
The Job Guarantee establishes a “floor” for the entire economy by ensuring a just minimum wage and benefits package for every person who wants or needs paid employment. Benefits may include but are not limited to: affordable healthcare (general, mental, dental, eye, etc.); paid breaks, leave, and vacations; union representation; legal council. In addition to providing for Job Guarantee workers, this floor prices out exploitative private employers, while forcing remaining businesses to compete with the public sector’s wages, benefits, workplace standards, and worker protections.
The Job Guarantee establishes a true minimum wage for all. Present minimum wage laws are important for protecting working people by prohibiting employers from hiring employees or workers for less than a given hourly, daily or monthly wage. However, such laws do not address those suffering from un- and underemployment, leaving the effective minimum wage at zero. The Job Guarantee ensures a genuine minimum wage by employing everyone willing and able to work at a guaranteed wage. It thereby extends the aims of the Fight for $15 movement from the currently employed to all.
Yes! The United States government can always afford to invest in American communities and environments. As the sole manufacturer of its currency, the U.S. government will never run out of dollars. Government can spend as needed on a Job Guarantee without causing deleterious inflation, so long as there are available persons, material resources, and know-how to mobilize. A Job Guarantee will also help stabilize the economy as a whole, counter-cyclically expanding during crises and contracting during boom times.
No! Specific Job Guarantee programs will have specially dedicated funding, offices and infrastructures. Yet Job Guarantee workers will remain wholly integrated within public and civil sectors, and the economy more broadly. Job Guarantee workers will staff both ongoing and new institutions, programs and projects that promote public purpose. Job Guarantee workers will begin at a living base wage but will have unlimited room for advancement in the public and private sectors. And counselors can assist Job Guarantee workers at every step: from education and retraining to placement and advancement.
Some Job Guarantee workers will find training, apprenticeships and placements in community- and environment-oriented non-profit organizations and social entrepreneurial ventures. Funds will be furnished through federal grants. But nonprofits and social entrepreneurship will decentralize job creation and make work attentive to local needs.
The Job Guarantee realizes social participation in the production process as a basic and inalienable human right. In doing so, it puts the means of production in the hands of everyday people and gives working people a say in shaping both the quantity and quality of working life. Better still, worker-run cooperatives could mobilize Job Guarantee resources using Participatory Budgeting practices, democratizing finance and investment.
- Care for environment. Examples include: soil erosion control, flood control, environmental surveys, species monitoring, park maintenance and renewal, removal of invasive species, sustainable agriculture practices to address “food deserts,” support for local fisheries, community supported agriculture (CSA) farms, community and rooftop gardens, tree planting, fire and other disaster prevention measures, weatherization of homes, composting, and environmental education and awareness programs.
- Care for community. Examples include: cleanup of vacant properties, reclamation of materials, restoration of public spaces, and other small infrastructure investments; establishment of school gardens, urban farms, co-working spaces, solar arrays, tool lending libraries, classes and programs, community theaters, mural painting and online collaborative digital arts; construction of playgrounds; restoration of historical sites; organization of carpooling programs, as well as recycling, reuse, and water-collection initiatives, food waste programs, and oral histories projects.
- Care for people. Examples include: organizing after-school activities or adult skill classes in schools or local libraries; facilitating extended-day programs for school children; shadowing teachers, hospice workers, civil engineers, social workers, and librarians to learn new skills and assist them in their duties; organizing nutrition surveys in schools; and coordinating health awareness programs for young mothers.
The Job Guarantee will play a leading role in the broader shift toward a resilient green society. It counteracts planet-destroying economic growth and waste by investing in low-emission renewables, building climate-resilient infrastructures, and improving public health. It also permits workers to leave jobs in low-pay extractive industries, while shifting finance and investment toward green enterprises. For these reasons, environmental activists have made a Job Guarantee the centerpiece of their proposals for a Green New Deal.
The Job Guarantee dramatically expands work opportunities for college graduates and credentialed workers by both funding and coordinating paid entry-level apprenticeships across public, non-profit, and private sectors. In place of rampant un- and underpaid internships, such “pre-licensure” apprenticeships pay participants entry-level salaries as they pursue diverse training experiences and professional mentoring.
Absolutely! Roughly 5 million formerly incarcerated persons live in the U.S. and their unemployment rate is 27%--a rate worse than that of the Great Depression. The Job Guarantee will assist the formerly incarcerated with integrating back into the work force and society, while reducing crime and recidivism.
Without a doubt! There is plenty of work to be done and no one should be excluded from cultivating and caring for our communities and environments. Consequently, immigration reform and other supportive policies are critical to realizing the promise of a Job Guarantee.
The Job Guarantee protects the right of every person to seek legal enforcement should the federal government fail to provide them with quality living-wage employment, unionization, and employee rights.
A successful Job Guarantee requires a strong welfare system, providing assistance for persons unable or unwilling to work. To this end, Job Guarantee should include improving and expanding existing welfare benefits while ending welfare clawbacks. At the same time, the Job Guarantee program will include a host of community counselors, who will assist workers struggling with their employment and otherwise help them fulfill their individual desires and needs.
Universal Basic Income is the idea that government should supply every person with a basic regular stipend, no questions asked. Many would immediately benefit from such a scheme if implemented tomorrow. Yet UBI puts private over public interests, does little to secure democratic participation, and leaves global capitalist production as is. It reinforces rather than reduces our dependence on exploitation, extraction, and violence. A UBI is not the right vision for transitioning to a just and sustainable economy.
Nobody should be punished who is unwilling or unable to work. No person should go hungry or homeless. And no one should be denied access to credit and banking services. To quote Coretta Scott King, “This nation has never honestly dealt with the question of a peacetime economy.” For this reason, we should guarantee housing, healthcare, education, family and disability support, reparations, and other public goods through a full employment economy, undergirded by a Job Guarantee now!