Job Equity

Of the roughly 3 million jobs in Massachusetts, around 1 million are considered “bad jobs.”

Jobs with low wages. Jobs with no benefits. Jobs with real safety issues. Jobs with no path for growth.

People in these types of jobs are often stuck in these types of jobs. If they’re lucky, they’re stuck in three of these jobs – ’cause that what it takes to make ends meet.

They have no time for family. They have no time for community. They have no time to support their child’s education, to speak out against a policy change that will hurt them, or to make connections with neighbors.

Bad jobs aren’t just a problem for workers, they’re a problem for the community.

I got these numbers from the Good Jobs Coalition, which visited a group I work with, Somerville Community Corporation‘s Jobs for Somerville, earlier this week.

In Somerville, in particular, we’re faced with an interesting opportunity and challenge. New development will bring new jobs.

The city’s strategic plan envisions 30,000 new jobs to be created within the next 20 years.

But what types of jobs will these be? And who will get them?

These are important questions that affect us all. I’m pretty happy with my job, so in one sense these 30,000 jobs mean nothing to me.

But as I see my friends and neighbors leave the city because they can’t afford it, as I see my community colleagues unable to attend meetings and actions about improving jobs because they’re too busy working their third shift, as I observe the voices that are continually missing from community dialogue, I know this issue impacts me deeply.

So I was excited when earlier this week, the city sent out an RFP for creating a system to connect and train local workers for these new jobs.

Not only would this ‘first source’ system provide a path for local workers to connect to local jobs, but importantly, it would connect these workers to job training – ESOL, computer literacy, worker’s rights. It would help bridge the gap, and, hopefully, empower workers to get, and demand, good jobs.

But of course, this issue isn’t just a Somerville problem.

My whole world is about four square miles, so I tend to look at things through a Somerville lens. But the issue is much broader and deeper than that.

The Good Jobs Coalition works regionally across Greater Boston, connecting groups like Jobs for Somerville so we can learn from each other and work together.

Fighting for local jobs in Somerville is not a matter of trying to exclude workers from Medford. It’s about trying to break the cycle of poverty or near poverty. About empowering people to have voice and agency within their communities. About making the community stronger and better for all of us.

Some of us will work very locally, some of us will work regionally, some of us will work nationally, and some of us will work globably.

But all of us can work together and fight together and build better communities together.

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