Writing in The Huffington Post shortly after the election, Mike Lux warned of the approaching fiscal showdown and of the new level of alignment required among those organizations and unions who want to see a focus on investment instead of austerity. The fiscal showdown sends chills to my bones, especially in the midst of unprecedented gridlock and partisanship in Congress. The outcome of these deliberations will have long-lasting and far-reaching impacts on our communities. However, the deepening alliance between labor, progressive organizations, and the faith community puts us in a position like never before. Together, we can win economic justice.
This week, 120 leaders of the Gamaliel faith-based community organizing network are flying to Washington, D.C. where we will meet with Congress and the White House and engage in a powerful action calling for a just resolution to this fiscal showdown.
We'll blanket the halls of Congress with our message of job investment; we will meet with top White House officials to share our narrative of abundance over austerity; and we will takeover legislative offices in prayer vigils calling for Congress to care for the least among us.
These actions are critical, and are just one part of the larger movement for "jobs not cuts." The country is erupting into protest, demanding a fair and just economy:
- Workers and allies are standing up to Walmart and fast food chains
- Students are fighting back against tuition hikes,
- Teachers are demanding better conditions for their students.
Meanwhile, Gamaliel is working to deepen relationships from the ground up with our labor and community partners -- because we know -- an austerity narrative doesn't work for our economy and it doesn't work for our movement. For too long, social justice organizations have prioritized turf protection over meaningful collaboration, resting on the assumption that there is a zero-sum game in organizing. From progressive infighting over Wall Street reform all the way back to the long history of division within the labor movement, justice-minded organizations have handed easy victories to conservatives by fighting amongst ourselves and tearing our movement to pieces.
I remember as a young organizer battling with would-be allies to the same severity with which we fought slumlords and bankers. When I stepped into the Gamaliel executive director position two years ago, I started a "listening tour" with allies and members across the country, following the example of Hilary Clinton as she prepared for her run for the New York Senate seat. What I heard again and again was a desire from the grassroots to stop all the false divisions and figure out a way to work with anyone and everyone who shares our vision of a just economy. This is the same battle we are engaged in around the economy. If we want to change the narrative about the economy, the change begins with us. And I am inspired by what I have seen leading up to the election and over the last month.
Gamaliel worked closely with AFLCIO, Communication Workers of America, and State Voices to mobilize 350,000 voters across 17 states for the 2012 elections. We partnered with NAACP and Urban League to launch a powerful education equity campaign, ensuring that paths to opportunity will be available even for the most marginalized communities. We scored major victories working with the Amalgamated Transit Union, working together to protect against transit service cuts around the country and to stop national moves to privatize the industry. Only through these and similar partnerships will the Fiscal Showdown be resolved to benefit the many and not only the few.
As part of this alliance, today is officially a national action day around the Fiscal Showdown. Labor, community, and faith-based partners are flooding Congress with calls, letters, and visits to demand a fair and just economy. Just this week, a lopsided "deficit reduction" proposal was floated, balancing the budget on the backs of the working class and the poor. Only by collaborating on the ground and coordinating strategy can the voices of working class and poor families play a meaningful and substantive role in rebuilding the economy.