Key Areas: Family-sustaining wages, equitable access to jobs, resources, and contracts, fair-hiring practices, entrepreneurship opportunities, workers’ rights, worker ownership and collectives, wealth-building, automation
It goes without saying that our livelihoods affect how much money we make. They may also be part of our identities or a focus for our dreams and ambitions. Our livelihoods shape us and our lives in many different ways. COVID-19, automation, and climate change all present challenges for the work we do now (if one is lucky enough to work) and the work we will do in the future.
How much we make largely determines where we can live. It affects whether we can rent, own, or stay with others. It affects whether we can pay our rent or mortgage and our utility bills.
How much we make, how many jobs we work, what type of jobs we work, and how much our employers respect and value us, our backgrounds, our situations, and our experiences all affect our mental and physical health. With our region’s emphasis on “eds and meds”, there is a large number of healthcare workers in our region—many of whom make low wages in non-union jobs and are exposed to health risks, such as COVID-19, all while taking care of our families and their own.
Similarly, how much we make influences on what food we can afford. How many jobs we have affects how much time we have to prepare healthy meals for ourselves and our families. Like healthcare workers, many food industry workers receive low wages in non-union jobs and were directly impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions to protect public health.
Our livelihoods affect the education and opportunities we can provide for our children—and the chances for their economic and future wealth-building. Childcare workers and educators play a vital role in our region. They take care of our children while their parents and caregivers work and also prepare our children for their adulthood and the future of our region. Despite their role, many childcare workers receive low wages, as well. Both they and other educators are adapting to changes brought on by the pandemic.
How much we make also affects how we move through the city—whether we own a car, can afford parking, or rely on public transportation. Moving through the city can be difficult when working multiple jobs to make ends meet. Public transportation is essential for many low-wage workers, including those who are essential workers themselves.
Many jobs in the region are still tied to heavy industry directly or indirectly. Transitioning to renewable energy, investing in green infrastructure projects, and supporting renovations for healthy homes can offer employment and career opportunities and new forms of worker-based collective ownership—all while improving the environment and our health.