EARN in the South

EARN in the South is a cross-state initiative to develop a pragmatic, but aspirational agenda for improving economic conditions for working families in the South.

Historically, EARN has supported work in states on a range of efforts to improve conditions for working families. Yet, the specific initiatives often have seemed beyond the reach of groups operating in more conservative areas, leaving them to feel that they cannot be full participants in EARN’s core mission. At the December 2016 EARN conference, a workshop titled “EARN in the Red” invited the directors of EARN’s state organizations to discuss opportunities for cross-state work, with a focus on how EARN can support work in the South. Subsequent discussions led to a September 2017 meeting in Atlanta, where representatives from 12 southern EARN groups and advocacy or organizing collaborators from each state discussed the unique challenges of work in the South and began developing a shared framework for advancing worker-centric economic policy in the region.

With an explicit recognition of the centrality of race in the economic and cultural history of the South, the 13 Southern EARN groups involved in this effort have insisted that this work include, from its inception, advocacy and organizing partners who represent affected communities. As a first step, southern EARN groups and their state collaborators will jointly develop a framework for action that can achieve visible successes, however incremental, while offering opportunities to build public support and advance a broader progressive economic agenda.

Publications

Worker Power Key to a Better Balance in Georgia

Key Takeaways:

  • This Labor Day, we are reminded that there are still anti-labor policies on the books in Georgia that diminish worker power and economic opportunity for all.
  • Unions play a significant role in shaping a better future for Georgia’s workers, their families and the economy overall.

Why it matters

At the expense of low-wage workers, those who wield more than their fair share of corporate and political power have facilitated and benefited from a historic rise in racial and economic inequality. Policymakers and business interests have collaborated long enough through state and local policies to make Georgia simultaneously the No. 1 place to do business and home of the No. 1 place for income inequality.

The weakening of labor protections in Georgia allowed for policies like Georgia’s Senate Bill (SB) 359 to ram through this legislative session. This bill shields businesses from liability by creating a near-impossible standard to prove gross negligence if a worker contracts COVID-19 on the job. In other words, state lawmakers bolstered protections for employers, but not for the people they employ who were forced to return to work prematurely during a deadly pandemic in a state with one of the highest infection rates, particularly among Black and Latinx Georgians.

Enhanced child care funding makes life better for Alabama’s children and families

Maintenance of federal CCDBG funding at the 2018 level is critical for continued progress in the provision of child care for low- and moderate-income children in Alabama. Increased funding would allow Alabama to expand the number of children who receive assistance by increasing income eligibility to 85% of median family income. It also would allow Alabama to increase per-child subsidies to programs. And that would improve the incomes of child care teachers and the retention of well-qualified and educated teachers.

People-Powered Prosperity

The most prosperous states are anchored by an educated and healthy workforce and offer opportunities for people to innovate and contribute. Moving into the 2018 statewide elections and subsequent governor’s administration, Georgia leaders can seize a golden opportunity to chart a better economic course. People-Powered Prosperity details a new vision for how state lawmakers can pursue that strategy and ways they can responsibly pay for it. The report outlines a public investment plan aimed at four strategic goals, which include eight specific policy recommendations such as targeted funding hikes for public schools and an ambitious ramp-up of assistance to help families afford child care. We also present a case to show how Georgia can afford to raise $1 billion in new annual revenues as a meaningful down payment on the strategy, a shared investment of reasonable scope.