Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ayanna Pressley joined 1,700 people Tuesday evening to launch Renew New England, a coalition of grassroots volunteers and advocates fighting to elect candidates across the U.S. northeast region who are committed to a rapid shift to renewable energy as part of a broader move toward economic equality and justice.
The coalition includes labor unions, racial justice groups, and climate action organizers and is committed to building a grassroots effort to help candidates for state-level positions win elections with a platform centering a jobs guarantee.
"Renew New England is about making what seems politically impossible into a political inevitability."
—Varshini Prakash, Sunrise Movement
Renew New England on Tuesday announced more than 100 candidates across the region who are running for state House and Senate seats as well as for leadership positions including governor and state treasurer.
"I'm so glad to see organizations in all New England states coming together in the fight for justice—in the fight for environmental justice and combating climate change, in the fight for racial justice, in the fight for social justice, in the fight for economic justice," said Sanders.
The region-wide jobs guarantee would provide every New Englander with a job paying at least $15 per hour, providing strong union benefits, paid sick leave, and high-quality health insurance.
The jobs created would aim to confront unemployment, low wages, unaffordable housing, the climate crisis, and lack of health insurance all at the same time.
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People employed under the jobs guarantee would help to:
- build tens of thousands of carbon-neutral affordable housing units;
- construct community health centers where New Englanders can obtain high-quality, free healthcare regardless of their insured status;
- support for small, local farmers in New England;
- build large-scale solar and wind farms without displacing marginalized communities from their land;
- build a free, high-speed public transportation system connecting all the New England states; and
- launch a pollution cleanup task force.
Organizations leading the coalition include the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, Maine People's Alliance, Sunrise Movement, Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts Action Fund, and 350 Mass Action.
"Can you imagine what we could do together if we got organized to take over state Houses across the country, starting right here at home?" said Varshini Prakash, co-founder and executive director of the Sunrise Movement, at the launch event. "Renew New England is about making what seems politically impossible into a political inevitability."
Watch the virtual rally at Facebook.
The coalition has been endorsed by climate action advocates including author Naomi Klein.
"Renew New England is a beacon, inviting us to build the future we all need, together," Klein said. "It is a meeting place of visionary social movements and exciting electoral figures—both new and longstanding... Renew New England is precisely the coalition this historic moment requires."