As U.S. coronavirus cases continue to climb, millions of Americans remain out of work, and climate campaigners express initial disappointment over President Joe Biden's emerging infrastructure proposal, the Sunrise Movement on Thursday officially launched its Good Jobs for All Pledge with support from eight key progressives in Congress.
"There's no reason anyone in the richest country in the history of the world should be unemployed, underemployed, or working a job that isn't in the public interest."
—Varshini Prakash, Sunrise Movement
The original signatories of the pledge—which is part of a campaign the youth-led climate advocacy group kicked off earlier this month—are Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as well as Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)
"I commit to doing everything in my power to pass legislation that guarantees good jobs for all, invests $10 trillion over the next decade to create millions of union jobs addressing the crises of climate change, economic inequality, and systemic racism, and puts money into the hands of people and communities, not the wealthy few," the pledge reads.
Sunrise and over a dozen partners—including Communications Workers of America, Democracy for America, Indivisible, March For Our Lives, NDN Collective, United We Dream, and the Working Families Party—are encouraging constituents across the country to send letters calling on their federal elected officials to endorse the pledge.
We can address the crises we face by creating millions of good union jobs to dismantle systemic racism, fight for economic equality & stop the climate crisis.
— Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (@RepBonnie) March 25, 2021
"We live in a moment of historic crises—a health crisis, an economic inequality crisis, a racial justice crisis, and a climate crisis that looms over it all," said Sunrise executive director Varshini Prakash in a statement Thursday. "With so much work to do building a better society that works for all of us, there's no reason anyone in the richest country in the history of the world should be unemployed, underemployed, or working a job that isn't in the public interest."
"That's why we're calling on every single member of Congress to take the Good Jobs for All pledge, demonstrating their commitment to enact policies that meet the scale of the crises we're facing and puts us on a path to a Green New Deal that guarantees a good job to anyone who wants one," she explained. "We're going to put on the pressure to make sure that they do. And if they don't, well then they're really gonna hear from us—we take fighting for good jobs and a liveable future seriously."
Markey—who, along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), has led the push for a Green New Deal in Congress—said he was "proud" to commit to the pledge.
"The climate crisis poses an existential threat to our planet, but it also brings massive opportunity to redress historic injustices and build a better future for all. We can combat the worst effects of the climate crisis while creating millions of good union jobs at the same time," Markey noted. "With a Green New Deal, we can fight for environmental injustice, ignite a clean energy revolution across our country, invest in bold and green infrastructure projects, and put people back to work following this economic recession."
Working #ForThePeople means fighting for their union jobs, combating climate change, and dismantling systemic racism — one step at a time.
We made that promise, and we're gonna keep it. https://t.co/sUcpYlE8S8
— Adriano Espaillat (@RepEspaillat) March 25, 2021
Pressley, a Green New Deal co-sponsor, said Thursday that "establishing the legal right to a good job for every person will help address the current employment crisis, create the foundation for an equitable economic recovery, and ensure that we are able to meet the pressing challenges facing our communities."
"That's why I recently introduced a history-making resolution in Congress calling for a federal job guarantee, and it's why I'm proud to be among the first to sign the Good Jobs for All Pledge," she added, referencing the resolution she unveiled in February. The congresswoman expressed excitement about advancing "bold employment policies that ensure every person has access to a good job that pays a living wage" and putting people to work "addressing urgent priorities, like the climate crisis."
The roll-out of Sunrise's pledge comes after the group criticized Biden's reported plans to put forth a two-part $3 trillion infrastructure package. Sunrise press secretary Ellen Sciales—and other critics of the developing proposal—pointed out that even Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, has called for at least $4 trillion in spending.
The advocacy group is also backing the BUILD GREEN Infrastructure and Jobs Act, introduced last week by Markey and Ocasio-Cortez as well as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.). The bill would invest $500 billion over 10 years in state, local, and tribal projects with the ultimate goal of a fully electric U.S. public transportation system.
This post has been updated to reflect that Sen. Bernie Sanders' serves as an independent.