2016 Program: Economic Justice
Structural inequity holds people of color, women, and LGBTTQ workers disproportionately in low wage jobs. Puget Sound SAGE and EBASE's replicable wins utilized multi-pronged strategies to increase low-wage workers access to mid-wage careers and improve conditions of low wage work. Our panel will present and practice the inside/outside game ensuring authentic leadership, access to power and avoid tokenism of impacted workers and campaign staff of color. People of color and other disenfranchised people are not just “storytellers” but are providers of best solutions addressing racial inequity in our economy, politics and campaigns. As we work for our concrete wins, we have gathered successes and failures refining our transformative practice harnessing power and access for disenfranchised people impacted by our work. Our practice was developed by lead staff and worker leaders of color in our multi-sector Coalitions raising the floor of low-wage work and opening the door to mid-wage employment for structurally disenfranchised workers. Our Coalition work includes: Oakland’s 2014 Measure FF securing $12.25 minimum wage and paid sick days; Seattle’s 2014 $15 minimum wage victory; 2013 Yes! for SeaTac ballot winning $15 minimum wage for Airport workers 71% percent East African immigrants; 2012 landmark Oakland Army Base Good Jobs Policy providing pathways to mid-wage construction jobs for majority Black and Latino workers; EBASE’s Oakland United campaign fighting to win public benefits preventing displacement of East Oakland low-income communities of color; and, SAGE’s Equitable Transit Oriented Development project securing equitable and environmentally sustainable future for Seattle’s workers and communities of color.
VOTE has been a leader on criminal justice policy issues, particularly as the core of their membership comes from a jailhouse lawyer approach to identifying problems, openly challenging injustices, and crafting alternatives. Along with sister organizations also fighting to Ban the Box, we successfully broke new ground with a petition that forced President Obama to issue an executive order in 2015. VOTE has been a national leader in challenging the same rationale for exclusion from public housing, and in 2016 won a new policy in New Orleans that is a starting point for others. Our 2016 legislation and litigation voting rights campaign is being fought in Louisiana: the most incarcerated state in the world, and home to the most violent and storied forms of race-based voter disenfranchisement.
In the 21st century, oppressors need not talk about race because they have convictions to label who is in the "Us" or "Them." Yet these convictions are created through race-based policing in schools and communities, and structural racism throughout the decision-making process of the system. This session is not to tell us what we already know. It is for activists and strategists who want to integrate race and convictions in a way that works- and in a way that does not exclude roughly 50 million white Americans (and their families) who also suffer the impacts of a conviction.