I spend a significant amount of my time talking and thinking about good jobs and worker’s rights – primarily through my work as a member of Somerville Community Corporation‘s Jobs for Somerville.
We all know folks who are working two or three jobs just to get by. And that’s not okay.
It’s easy to blame it on the economy – these are rough times and we all got to tighten our belts. But when I see no change to the status quo anywhere in the future – that’s not okay.
(Also, while the recent economic downturn has doubtless made things worse, let’s not pretend it was all rainbows and roses before.)
I’m not content to sit around and wait for the economy to get better. I’m not content to imagine that someday, just so long as I shop enough, there will be jobs for everyone. I’m not content to let the market sort itself out.
And when I talk about jobs, I want to be clear in differentiating between “a job” and “a good job.”
It’s not enough to create crap jobs that pay nothing. It’s not enough to build a system where people are forced to scramble for whatever scraps they can get. It’s not enough to create temporary jobs that are gone in a month or two.
We need more. My community needs more. My neighbors need more.
I’m no economist, but we must find a way to fix this system. We need to find ways to create, good, sustainable jobs. Jobs that pay a living wage, are safe, and have opportunities for advancement.
That shouldn’t be too much to ask.
There’s an effort getting started in Massachusetts to raise the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour and to require employers to provide earned sick time to employees.
Those are good efforts that deserve good consideration and, I believe, support.
But let’s not stop there.
The system IS broke – and we should fix it.