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Ayanna Pressley: Federal Job Guarantee Lays the Foundation

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Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) is calling for a federal job guarantee, contending it “lays the foundation for economic justice & freedom.”

“A reliable job. A living wage. A federal job guarantee lays the foundation for economic justice & freedom,” Pressley said on Monday, adding it is “about developing programs that meet long neglected needs in our community”:

Pressley introduced the resolution last week, which would “provide every person with an enforceable legal right to a quality job,” per her office. The program, funded by the federal government, would see the federal government work with communities to provide “public jobs for all adults seeking employment.”

Pressley’s office described the proposal as a means to achieve “true full employment” while simultaneously reducing “racial and gender inequities”:

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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 also set a new standard for quality jobs, pressuring low-wage employers to increase wages and benefits. 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. 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 summary of the resolution provides an example of “guarantee projects,” which include “expanding emergency preparedness,” “producing works of public art and documentation,” and “augmenting the staffing of public education and early childhood learning.”

Pay would begin at $15 per hour and would include benefits such as health insurance, paid sick days, paid family medical leave, vacation, and retirement benefits.

“It’s time to establish a legal right to a job for all people in America,” Pressley said in a statement. “For years, we have legislated hate, harm and injustice in this country.”

“It’s long past time to pursue bold, intentional policies that affirm equity and recognize the dignity and humanity of all people,” she continued, calling a federal job guarantee an “important investment” to achieve an equitable economy.

According to a 2018 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a federal job degree program could cost $543 billion annually, “or just under 3 percent of GDP.”

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