Progressive Leaders Unveil Shared Populist Agenda

MEDIA ADVISORY CONTACTS:   Populism2015 logo


Jacob Swenson-Lengyel (, 312-316-3973


Populism2015 Conference Will Bring 1,000 People From Across the Country Together in Washington, D.C. this Weekend

Washington, D.C. – Progressive leaders today unveiled a new shared populist agenda on a media conference call in advance of the Populism2015 conference. This agenda is galvanizing the progressive populist community and defining the debate going into the 2016 elections.

“There is a bottom-up progressive populist sentiment building in this country,” said George Goehl, Executive Director of National People’s Action, “It’s no secret that we are looking for political leadership, but we are also not waiting for that leadership. Populism2015 and the agenda we are organizing is one sign of that. The ideas in our agenda create a clear line in the sand for all candidates. At the end of the day the question is simple: do you stand with everyday people or do you stand with big-monied corporate interests?”

“This platform has been shaped by the key issues that determine the direction of our communities and our national economy,” said Roger Hickey of the Campaign for America’s Future. “We are taking the questions raised by our platform to the national political debate and to communities across the country.”

“In 18 months, we will go to the polls and choose a new president. Those candidates and all the others on the ballot in 2016 will have choices to make,” said Fred Azcarate, Executive Director of US Action, “Will they stand with working families and advance bold ideas that create an economy and a democracy that works for us all? Or will they side with the rich and Wall Street?”

“When you organize, you can win. Our power is in our numbers,” said LeeAnn Hall, Executive Director of the Alliance for a Just Society. “Our organizations have worked together on many issues to put the powerful on notice and to demand accountability from corporations ­– and from Congress.  We will use that strength to wrest our nation back from the corporate class, from the bankers and billionaires who put profits ahead of people.”

“Collectively we bring together a team of 600 organizers who will fight to move these ideas into the national conversation,” said Goehl. “They will be working in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and beyond to make sure candidates of both parties have to articulate where they stand on these issues.”

Populism2015 is sponsored by National People’s Action, Campaign for America’s Future, USAction, and Alliance for a Just Society, four organizations that collectively employ more than 600 professional organizers, with on the ground operations in 32 states, and a network of more than two million activists. For more information visit


Who:        National People’s Action, Campaign for America’s Future, USAction, Alliance for a Just Society

When:     Saturday, April 18 – Monday, April 20, 2015 Registration 3 p.m. April 18 | First session: 6 p.m.

Where:     Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington D.C.

Plenary: Sun. April 19, 1:30 pm with Rep. Keith Ellison and Vien Truong of the Greenlining Institute
Rally: “Don’t Trade Away Our Future,” Mon. April 20, 12pm at 600 17th Street NW, Office of the US Trade Representative, Opposing Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership featuring Senator Bernie Sanders, CWA President Larry Cohen, National Radio Commentator Jim Hightower


Social Media:  #Populism2015, #PeoplePlanet1st

Leaders Available for Interviews Before Conference

  • Robert Borosage, Campaign for America’s Future

  • George Goehl, National People’s Action

  • LeeAnn Hall, Alliance for A Just Society

  • Fred Azcarate, USAction

    To arrange interviews with the conference leaders and grassroots activists contact Isaiah J. Poole (, 202-641-1414 or Jacob Swenson-Lengyel (, 312-316-3973.


A Full-Time Job Should Lead to Financial Stability, Not to Poverty

WASHINGTON – Half of all new jobs nationwide don’t pay enough for a full-time worker to live on – much less a single parent with a child. And there are long lines of job-seekers for the few jobs that do pay a living wage.

“Low Wage Nation,” released today, is the newest report in the Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series produced by the Alliance for a Just Society. The report paints a sobering picture of just how hard it is to find a living wage job.

“This new report clearly illustrates the low-wage crisis in our country,” said LeeAnn Hall, executive director of Alliance for a Just Society. “A full-time job should lead to financial stability, not to poverty.”

The top four occupations with the greatest number of projected job openings are in retail and food service. Those jobs pay between $8.81 and $10.16 an hour.

The Alliance was joined by executive directors from Good Jobs First and Washington Community Action Network for a live webinar today to discuss the findings of the report. A recorded version of the webinar is available here.

“The reality is that we are living in a low wage nation, a country of workers putting in long hours, but still failing to make ends meet. And this report is the evidence,” said Ben Henry, senior policy associate and one of the report authors.

Some of the report findings:

  • Nationwide, 48 percent of job openings pay less than $15 an hour. (That percent ranges from 35 percent in Massachusetts to 61 percent in South Dakota.)
  • Nationally, there are seven times more job seekers than jobs that pay enough for a worker to make ends meet.
  • Two of the top five occupations with the most projected job openings are also in the top five in lowest pay.

What Is a Living Wage?

A living wage is one that pays high enough for a full-time worker to cover basic living needs for herself and her family, without having to rely on public assistance to get by.

“A living wage is not a poverty wage, and it is not simply ‘scraping by.’ A living wage provides a modest living, with a little left to set aside for emergencies,” said Allyson Fredericksen, policy associate and co-author of the Alliance report.

It’s a Jobs Crisis, Not a Worker Crisis

“This is about workers who show up every day and put in a full day so that their employer can make a profit,” said Jill Reese, associate director of the Alliance. “These workers should not be living in poverty, they should be able to afford – at the very least – to cover their basic needs.”

Recommendations from the “Low Wage Nation” Report

  • Increase minimum wage to a living wage
  • Eliminate the tipped minimum wage (stuck at $2.13 an hour for 24 years)
  • Establish work supports, like paid sick days and paid maternity leave.
  • Strengthen federal and state safety net programs
  • Increase federal and state revenue
  • Invest in good paying jobs, like those in the health care industry

“Jobs that once were good family-wage jobs are becoming poverty-wage jobs, and economic development programs are too often indifferent,” said Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First.  “States giving out tax breaks usually fail to even disclose actual jobs created or actual wages paid.

“Low Wage Nation reveals the tremendous cost of those policies to our workers and their families,” said LeRoy.

The full report is available at

 # # #

Alliance for a Just Society is a national policy, research and organizing network with 15 state affiliates that focuses on health, racial and economic justice. The Alliance has produced Job Gap studies since 1999.

Families Out of Balance: Living Wages Move Families from Survive to Thrive

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEScreen shot 2014-08-26 at 5.45.16 PM
August 26, 2014
Contact: Kathy Mulady
(206) 992-8787

Read the Families Out of Balance report here.

Low-income families are already struggling to meet basic needs. Factor in suffocating household debt, and it is clear that families not making a living wage have little chance of building for the future.

As the gap between minimum wages and living wages continues to grow, we find that low-income households face a disproportionate debt burden — to an alarming degree. Families are forced to navigate a system that sets them up to fail, resulting in painful kitchen table conversations as households confront impossible balance sheets.

Job Gap: Families Out of Balance, produced by the Alliance for a Just Society, is the first report in the Alliance’s 2014 Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series. This study examines just what it takes to move beyond living paycheck-to-paycheck and the challenges that low-income families burdened with debt face.

The report also includes living wage findings for five household types in 10 states and in New York City. The Alliance has produced a Job Gap Study on jobs and wages since 1999. Continue reading “Families Out of Balance: Living Wages Move Families from Survive to Thrive”

Job Gap: Working Families Struggling, Sliding Deeper into Debt

JobGapNYSMeme2Debt – it’s become so entrenched in our daily lives that it’s almost a given. Debt is often a choice for higher income families, as an investment in the form of a mortgage or as a means to help pay for college.

However, lower-income households often end up in debt because their incomes leave them living paycheck-to-paycheck without a cushion for even minor incidentals. When an someone gets sick, the doctor bills pile up. If they attend college to improve their job opportunities, the student loan debt piles up.

It is an impossible balance sheet, resulting in families cutting back on necessities like health care, meals, or heat in the winter as they try to scrape by.

Today, Alliance for a Just Society released Families Out of Balance, the first report in the 2014 Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series. The report shows exactly how dramatically lower-income workers are disproportionately burdened by debt.

In addition, the reports shows that minimum wages in 10 states studied across the country fall far short of a living wage – even without adding debt to the equation. Continue reading “Job Gap: Working Families Struggling, Sliding Deeper into Debt”

Leaders, Businesses in Washington, Oregon and Idaho Calling for Immigration Reform Now

GrowingOurFuture_Logo logo_Large GOOD

For Immediate Release, July 3, 2014

Leaders and organizations representing businesses and communities throughout Washington, Oregon and Idaho are powerfully combining their voices, calling on elected officials in the U.S. Congress to take action now on immigration reform.

While recognizing that passing immigration reform this year is challenging, they also understand the dire economic consequences that failing to do so will have on our communities, our businesses, our families and our country.

As we look forward to Independence Day on July 4, celebrating our identity as a nation built through immigration, they are joining to send this clear message to our congressional delegations: “Do it now. We cannot afford to wait any longer.”

“Comprehensive immigration reform is key to continued prosperity in Washington and the Puget Sound region,” said Maud Daudon, president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. “We want to encourage the best and brightest workers from around the world to come help grow our economy and make sure our companies have the workforce they need to compete globally.” Continue reading “Leaders, Businesses in Washington, Oregon and Idaho Calling for Immigration Reform Now”

Daley Weekly: D.C. Summer Nastiness is in Full Bloom

billD.C.  Summer

The political season is in full flower in D.C. Lots of things are being proposed and voted on in both Houses of Congress that will not become law any time soon. There is no looming debt default or government shutdown, so everyone simply is taking a stick to everyone else. They will be doing this for a solid three weeks in July.

Immigration Confrontation

A huge confrontation is coming on immigration. Two months ago Speaker John Boehner seemed to be prepping his caucus to take a vote on some version of reform. The Administration seemed to be doing things to accommodate this possibility. Events: Eric Cantor’s loss, Obama’s falling approval ratings, international crises in Ukraine and the Middle East, economic stagnation, the children’s march into the arms of ICE.

Instead of pushing reform, some House Republicans are calling for a cessation of deferred prosecutions – deporting record numbers of people apparently is not enough. All of this comes on the backdrop of a wildly unpredictable election season. What happens if inaction in the House continues? Obama cannot but react, he is being invited into a confrontation.

Things got started in earnest last week when Speaker Boehner began readying a lawsuit over executive power. At week’s end, Obama bluntly told Boehner that if the Speaker did not like him using his legal authority, then the Congress could very well do something about immigration.  More will come soon as the debate widens over what to do with the refugee crisis on the Southern Border. Continue reading “Daley Weekly: D.C. Summer Nastiness is in Full Bloom”

Grassroots Victory! $15 Minimum Wage Passes in Seattle

Screen shot 2014-06-02 at 4.50.47 PMThe Alliance for a Just Society congratulates Seattle on making history today by unanimously passing a path to a $15 minimum wage – the highest in the nation. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said he would quickly sign the legislation into law.

More than 100,000 workers – disproportionately women and people of color – work minimum wage jobs in Seattle and will directly benefit from the increase. The whole city will benefit from the City Council’s courageous action.

“The victory in Seattle sets the stage for minimum wage victories in other states and nationally. We can’t wait for legislators to decide what’s best for working families, we have a responsibility to step up, be heard, and make change ourselves,” said Alliance Executive Director LeeAnn Hall. Continue reading “Grassroots Victory! $15 Minimum Wage Passes in Seattle”

Reversing the Trend: A Longitudinal Study of Living Wage and Minimum Wage

Screen shot 2014-05-28 at 11.03.10 AMA new report, “Reversing the Trend” by the Alliance for a Just Society, finds that Mayor Ed Murray’s minimum wage proposal reverses a minimum wage trend that is increasingly unable to meet the basic living needs of workers. Seattle’s proposed $15 minimum wage would be the highest in the country.

Analyzing more than a decade of data, this chart shows that while the path to a $15 an hour minimum wage is a step in the right direction toward addressing income inequality – living wage still exceeds projected minimum wage levels offered in the mayor’s model.

In addition, the study shows that a $15 minimum wage would not have been enough to support a single parent and child even back in 2003, and it would not have been enough to make ends meet for a single person as far back as 2010. Continue reading “Reversing the Trend: A Longitudinal Study of Living Wage and Minimum Wage”