Though it is easy to look at what is happening in Congress and our federal government these days and feel despair, now is the time for advocates across the country to double-down on their efforts to fight for progressive reform at the state and local level wherever possible. In states with leadership open to progressive reforms, advocates should be looking for every opportunity to introduce and work toward passing either this year or in the near future the kinds of reforms that will help low-wage workers gain a foothold in the economy and be more economically secure.
Even in states where the policy terrain is less favorable, finding legislators to champion progressive policies is both a messaging victory demonstrating to the electorate what is possible, but also can be an effective weapon to fight off ill-advised proposals aimed at taking power and rights away from workers and giving more to corporate employer interests.
The fact is that our nation’s low-wage and middle class workers are more vulnerable than they have been in most of our lifetimes, and this is particularly true for immigrant workers and people of color. The tone and tenor of so much of the national dialogue these days is deeply negative and divisive. But bringing together community-based organizations, their members, advocates and legislators at the state level can help turn the tide toward the positive. We can work together to present an alternative vision of what this nation should be about and how it should value its working people.