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Roger Garbey and Andres Hernandez install a solar panel system on the roof of a home on January 23, 2018 in Palmetto Bay, Florida. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Roger Garbey and Andres Hernandez install a solar panel system on the roof of a home on January 23, 2018 in Palmetto Bay, Florida. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Lawmakers, Progressive Coalition Unveil Framework to Create 'Thriving' Fair and Green Economy in Pandemic Recovery

"We have an opportunity to not just recover from these interlocking crises, but to thrive by creating millions of good-paying, union, clean, green jobs while building a more just, healthy, and stable economy that leaves no one behind."

Kenny Stancil, staff writer

A broad grassroots coalition of labor unions, advocacy groups, and Democratic members of Congress on Thursday unveiled a resolution known as the THRIVE Agenda—a bold plan for an equitable and green economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

"Everything is connected, and we do ourselves a grave disservice by maintaining normality when momentum is on our side and the people are demanding more."
—Karissa Lewis, Movement for Black Lives

The resolution—officially titled "Recognizing the Duty of the Federal Government to Implement an Agenda to Transform, Heal, and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy (THRIVE)" (pdf)—has already been endorsed by 79 members of Congress and is supported by over 160 social justice organizations. 

Citing a new poll, the coalition argues there is strong majority support nationwide—including in 40 battleground House districts and multiple swing states—for the chief objectives of THRIVE, which would create nearly 16 million good-paying jobs, revive the U.S. economy, and address the interlocking crises of climate change, inequality, public health, and racial injustice. 

In a statement, the coalition explained that a just recovery from the pandemic must prioritize "families and communities who share the dream of a good life: free from worry about meeting basic needs, with reliable and fulfilling work, and a dignified and healthy standard of living." The resolution itself describes an agenda built on eight pillars:

  • Creating millions of good, safe jobs with access to unions;
  • Building the power of workers to fight inequality;
  • Investing in Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities to build power and counteract racial and gender injustice;
  • Strengthening and healing the nation-to-nation relationship with sovereign Native Nations;
  • Combating environmental injustice and ensuring healthy lives for all;
  • Averting climate and environmental catastrophe;
  • Ensuring fairness for workers and communities affected by economic transitions; and
  • Reinvesting in public institutions that enable workers and communities to thrive.

The coalition backing the new framework contains scores of groups, including the Movement for Black Lives, Indigenous Environmental Network, the Sunrise Movement, United We Dream, 350.org, People's Action, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Color of Change, and the American Federation of Teachers.

Leading congressional Democrats—including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) in the Senate and Reps. Debbie Haaland (D-N.M.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in the House—also spearheaded the resolution.

An economic analysis conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst finds that a bold renewal plan like the one outlined in the THRIVE Agenda would create more than enough jobs for the 14 million currently unemployed workers in the U.S. to "go back to work building a more just, healthy, and stable economy." 

As outlined in the resolution, creating 16 million new jobs would:

offer safe workplaces, family-sustaining wages and benefits, and access to unions to workers building clean and affordable public transit, replacing lead pipes for clean water, expanding wind and solar power, caring for our children and the elderly, retrofitting buildings to cut costs and pollution, expanding manufacturing of clean technologies, restoring our wetlands and forests, and growing food sustainably on family farms.

Karissa Lewis, national field director of the Movement for Black Lives, explained that "without divesting from policing and investing in... secure jobs with living wages and benefits" and "without ensuring access to quality healthcare and the basic right of not living with or drinking toxic pollutants," we cannot expect to address public health crises like police violence and the Covid-19 pandemic, both of which have been disproportionately harmful to communities of color. 

"To meet this moment, we cannot accept short-term solutions that pretend our problems are siloed," Lewis said. "Everything is connected, and we do ourselves a grave disservice by maintaining normality when momentum is on our side and the people are demanding more."

"Indigenous people know that everything in life is connected and related," argued Tom BK Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. "The THRIVE Agenda addresses the climate crisis, racial injustice, mass unemployment, economic injustice and the global pandemic while recognizing the importance of recognition of our Indigenous and tribal sovereignty and treaty rights."

"Indigenous knowledge," added Goldtooth, "provides a path forward, acknowledging any form of economic recovery must respect the sacred relationship to Mother Earth, to assure nature and ecosystems are not viewed as capital in a carbon and conservation offset market system."

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, echoed other commentators, saying: "Communities across the country cannot afford incremental and piecemeal solutions" to the serious, intersecting problems we face. Brune continued:

Our government must rise to the moment and enact the bold, large-scale solutions outlined in the THRIVE Agenda, which lays out a forward-thinking vision that creates millions of secure jobs, supports cleaner air and a more stable climate, takes aim at racial injustice, and invests in the health of frontline communities. The Sierra Club calls on members of Congress to take immediate action and invest in a healthy, just, equitable economic recovery for all.

"The promise of the American dream should be available and accessible to everyone, but right now, our country is facing crises that are fatefully intertwined: tens of millions of people are unemployed, the Covid-19 pandemic rages, racial and economic injustice are rampant, and the climate crisis is accelerating," noted Congresswoman Haaland. 

"We have an opportunity to not just recover from these interlocking crises," said Haaland, "but to thrive by creating millions of good-paying, union, clean, green jobs while building a more just, healthy, and stable economy that leaves no one behind."


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