It’s no secret that the last 30 years have seen a brutal corporate assault on U.S. workers. Incomes and union membership rates have plummeted, unemployment is soaring, and the two corporate parties have joined forces to go after our previously untouchable historic gains.
This class war has largely been one-sided—but not entirely. The organization Jobs with Justice, for one, demonstrates that the workers’ movement is still lively, innovative, and capable of resistance.
A well-organized, tantalizing, and frequently inspiring new collection of interviews and essays, Jobs with Justice: 25 Years, 25 Voices, traces the group’s history and points toward what could be a promising future.
JwJ is an ongoing national coalition with 40 chapters where, in the words of co-founder Stewart Acuff, "community leaders and leaders of faith can sit down as equals with labor leaders and plan campaigns and plan initiatives."
It has created a space where union members can count on activists focused on community issues to support their workplace struggles—and vice versa.
‘I’ll Be There’
JwJ’s "I’ll Be There" pledge encapsulates this commitment. "Those who signed the ‘I’ll Be There’ pledge card realized that if we were there five times a year for someone else’s fight, we might start winning," according to Communications Workers President Larry Cohen, a co-founder of JwJ and national board member.
While the pledge could be reduced to "I’ll show up at your event if you show up at mine," victories won through collaboration promote a deeper solidarity. Participants begin to realize that no struggle is isolated, and learn the meaning of "An injury to one is an injury to all" from their own experience.
With this model, JwJ is able to stretch the boundaries of what union leaders are usually willing to take on. As Carl Rosen, co-founder of Chicago JwJ and president of the United Electrical Workers Western Region, wrote:
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