The National Jobs for All Coalition (NJAC) was founded in June 1994, when representatives from more than 70 regional and national activist groups gathered at an event convened by New Initiatives for Full Employment, an organization that had worked since 1986 to develop “a feasible plan for full employment” in the United States. From its earliest days, NJAC has maintained a close affiliation with Americans for Democratic Action and the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). As of 1997, at least 16 of NJAC’s leaders and advisors had been members, at some point in time, of either DSA or one of its predecessor organizations — the Democratic Socialists Organizing Committee or the New American Movement.
Also in 1997, NJAC was one of more than 100 leftist organizations that co-sponsored and launched the so-called “Progressive Challenge,” in an effort to unite their activities and talking points under a “multi-issue progressive agenda.”
NJAC seeks to “unit[e] a diverse group of otherwise divided, single-issue constituencies” in an effort to forge “a nation where everyone who wants to work can find a decent-paying job.” Such jobs, as NJAC envisions them, would have people work fewer hours each week than they are currently accustomed to — thus leaving them with “more leisure time” than ever before.
Viewing America as a nation rife with racism and discrimination, NJAC favors compensatory labor policies designed to promote “equality for groups traditionally disadvantaged in the workplace: women, minorities, youth, the elderly, the disabled, immigrants, and gay men and women.” The organization further calls for “shared prosperity” that can best be achieved by means of “increased public [taxpayer] investment” in such allegedly vital programs as “affordable child care”; “paid parental leave and other family-friendly policies”; “living wages”; “adequate income support”; “rebuilding our cities”; and “fair trade.”[
By NJAC’s reckoning, one of the U.S.’s most serious problems is the “concentration of income and wealth” that exists therein. Claiming that “the effect of so much in the hands of so few is … bad psychologically” for the American people, the coalition contends that “societies that are more equal do better” than others. In an effort to promote a wholesale societal redistribution of wealth, NJAC says: “We owe it to democracy to begin taxing high incomes and inheritance again. We owe it to future generations to use a temporary wealth tax to pay off the debt.”
Asserting also that “we must strengthen our safety net,” NJAC opposes welfare-reform measures that aim to reduce the number of people on the welfare rolls, particularly in “urban wastelands with few jobs.” “Full employment would be real welfare reform,” the coalition adds.[
To disseminate its message as broadly as possible, NJAC periodically produces articles, pamphlets, and position papers; makes speakers available to address various local, national, and professional organizations; dispatches spokesmen to participate in radio and television forums; and offers assistance to grassroots activists seeking to set up local groups to promote agendas consistent with those of NJAC.
NJAC is currently composed of 37 member organizations, including prominent entities like Americans for Democratic Action, the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, the Democratic Socialists of America, the Green Party of New York State, the National Council of Churches‘ Urban Initiatives Program, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition (formerly the National Rainbow Coalition), the Socialist Party, and the War Resisters League.
NJAC’s executive committee is chaired by Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg, a professor of social policy at the Adelphi University School of Social Work; Goldberg laments that female-headed households constitute a statistically disproportionate share of America’s poor.
NJAC’s advisory board features luminaries like Robert Edgar, Manning Marable, Jerrold Nadler, Robert Reich, Pete Seeger, and Cornel West. The board also consists of numerous college professors as well as officials from activist organizations such as the AFL-CIO, Americans for Democratic Action, the Campaign to Abolish Poverty, the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability, the Coalition for Abolition of the Death Penalty, the Council for a Livable World, the Economic Policy Institute, the Gray Panthers, the Institute for Economic Analysis, the National Council of Churches, the National Organization for Women, and Physicians for Social Responsibility (New York chapter). The late actor and playwright Ossie Davis was one of NJAC’s more prominent board members prior to his death in 2003.