September 01, 2020

Rep. Watson Coleman hosts the Future of Work, Panel One of Securing the American Dream for Working Families

Today, U.S. Rep Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), led the first panel of Securing the American Dream for Working Families, a three-day conference in partnership with Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Deb Haaland (D-NM). The panel, titled the Future of Work, featured Eddie S. Glaude Jr, James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University; Pavlina R. Tcherneva, Associate Professor of Economics at Bard College and Research Scholar at the Levy Economics Institute and the Global Institute for Sustainable Prosperity, author of The Case for a Job Guarantee; and William Spriggs, Chief Economist to the AFL-CIO.

The Future of Work panel spanned the topics of a federal jobs guarantee, the Green New Deal, as well as the impact of providing workers adequate benefits and supporting working unions across the country. The panelist held an hour and a half long conversation that detailed these issues facing our country and their relations to economic security, and ultimately discussed ways they will strengthen workforce in the future. 

Representative Watson Coleman, reflected on her thoughts regarding the importance of the Green New Deal. “We need to think of it in the same way we thought of the New Deal. It was necessary at the time”, said Watson Coleman. “[The New Deal] was determined to build our infrastructures that were crumbling. To put people back to work so that people could spend money so that the economy would come back strong. And that’s how I look at the green new deal and that’s why the moment I saw it I signed onto it.”

Williams Spriggs also reflected on the importance of creating an economy that works for the majority of people, while not allowing external forces to influence the balance of power in their favor. “We chose unemployment in the United States. That was our policy choice, economics is human action. There is nothing natural in the economy, it is all human decisions. You can make good decisions, you can make bad decisions. You can make decisions than benefit me, we can have decisions that benefit you, or we can come together to find solutions that benefit the most people”, said Chief Economist to the AFL-CIO. “We’ve walked from that with this mindset that whatever happens [to the economy] is good while letting people interject their power into the system. And we’ve excused them putting their thumbs on the balance; and now we have an economy that is [currently] out if balance.”

Professor Pavlina R. Tcherneva echoed a similar sentiment, when speaking about how a job is apart of not only our civil rights but our human rights. “We’ve had this conversation for quite some time. It was part of the FDR agenda to secure economic rights. It was a part of the civil rights struggle to guarantee the rights of [jobs] to everyone. It is a basic human right, and maybe that conversation does not resonate with everyone, but I think that it is worthwhile having and that we should commit to it fully.”

Over the course of three days, the Congresswomen will cover the future of work, the future of wealth, and the future of housing with academic experts and advocacy leaders, identifying solutions that will help more families make ends meet without the fear that a crisis ­– whether that be­ a sudden illness, a job loss, or an international pandemic – will wipe out their forward progress.

Tomorrow, Securing the American Dream for Working Families continues with The Future of Wealth, hosted by Rep. Haaland and featuring Mayor Ras Baraka, Newark, NJ; Vanessa Roanhorse, CEO Vanessa Roanhorse Consulting; Anna Aurilio, Federal Campaign Director at the Economic Security Project.