One Nation Working Together (ONWT)

One Nation Working Together (ONWT)


* Project of the Tides Center, designed to energize the far-left voter base for the 2010 mid-term elections
* Was headquartered out of the offices of USAction and the Service Employees International Union

A project of the Tides Center, One Nation Working Together (ONWT) was established in 2010 to inject new energy into the social justice movement in advance of that year’s mid-term elections. The project’s signature event was its October 2, 2010 “March on Washington,” whose purpose was to inspire “an intensive voter-mobilization program for Election Day 2010.” Headquartered in the Washington, DC offices of USAction, ONWT also coordinated some of its activities out of the New York City offices of the Service Employee International Union (SEIU).

ONWT’s March on Washington was endorsed by a wide range of leftist groups and activists. Notable endorsers included the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the American Association of University Professors, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Friends Service Committee, the American Muslim Association of North America, the Apollo Alliance, the Campaign for America’s Future, Campus Progress, the Center for Community Change, Code Pink, Color of Change, the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, the Communist Party USA, Democracy For America, the Democratic Socialists of America, the Earth Day Network, Free Speech TV, Friends of the Earth, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, Green for All, the Green Party, the Institute for Policy Studies, Interfaith Worker Justice, International ANSWER, the International Socialist Organization, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Jewish Funds For Justice, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Midwest Academy, the NAACP, the National Action Network, the National Council of La Raza, the National Education Association, the National Immigrant Solidarity Network, a local chapter of the National Organization for Women, the National Urban League, the National Wildlife Federation, the Network of Spiritual Progressives, Pax Christi, Peace Action, the Peace and Freedom Party, People For the American Way, Physicians For a National Health Program, Planned Parenthood, Progressive Democrats of America, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Reform Immigration For America, School of the Americas Watch, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, the Service Employees International Union, the Sierra Club, Sojourners, Tikkun, UNITE HERE, United for Peace and Justice, the United States Student Association, USAction, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Veterans For Peace, Win Without War, Women’s Action for New Directions, and the Working Families Party.[

Organizing for America](, President Barack Obama’s support organization, helped publicize ONWT’s October 2 rally, as did the Daily Kos. Notable public figures to support the event included Howard Dean and Danny Glover.

Featured speakers at the ONWT rally included such luminaries as: AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, entertainer Harry Belafonte, CASA de Maryland board member Simon Bautista, Center for American Progress senior fellow Van Jones, Center for Community Change director Deepak Bhargarva, Democracy for America chair Jim Dean, Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Green for All president Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights president Wade Henderson, League of United Latin American Citizens president Margaret Moran, NAACP president Ben Jealous, National Action Network founder and president Al Sharpton, National Education Association president Dennis Van Roekel, National Urban League president Marc Morial, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition founder Jesse Jackson, SEIU president Mary Kay Henry, and U.S. Students Association president Lindsay McCluskey.

ONWT’s national campaign manager was Leah Daughtry, daughter of a noted mouthpiece of black liberation theology, Herbert Daughtry. A minister at the House of the Lord Pentecostal Church in Washington, DC, Ms. Daughtry had previously worked in President Bill Clinton‘s Labor Department and was chief of staff to Democratic National Committee chairmen Howard Dean and Terry McAuliffe.

ONWT’s steering committee liaison was Rosalyn Pelles, former director of the AFL-CIO’s Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Department. A onetime black-liberation activist, Pelles was a signatory to the 1998 call for the formation of a Black Radical Congress as a means of reviving social militancy among African Americans.

ONWT’s “director of peace,” Michael McPhearson, was a key organizer of the October 2, 2010 rally. A former executive director of Veterans for Peace, McPhearson also has worked for the United for Peace and Justice coalition and has endorsed the Black Radical Congress.

The ONWT project’s three central pillars were jobs, education, and “equality for all.” While the project claimed that “putting America back to work” was its primary focus, the vast majority of its proposals on this issue dealt with increasing direct relief benefits to the unemployed, expanding the public sector, and unionizing the workplace.

Specifically, ONWT’s platform called for the following key items, whose most commonly shared feature was their call for increased government intervention and taxpayer-dollar expenditures:

  • living-wage laws to guarantee that all jobs “pa[y] enough to support a family
  • an end to “racial profiling and re-segregation”
  • “a fair path to citizenship” for illegal aliens, so as to “fix the broken immigration system” and alleviate immigrant children’s fears that their “parents will be deported”
  • a clean environment, so no child is ever forced to decide between drinking the water or breathing the air, and staying healthy”
  • an end to “tax cuts for the wealthy” 
  • an end to “unjustified military spending
  • full equality for all women in all communities, indulging an end to wage discrimination”
  • an expansion of taxpayer-funded unemployment benefits, healthcare benefits, and mortgage assistance, with particular emphasis on helping “populations and communities in the greatest need”
  • an increase in federally funded “youth summer jobs and training initiatives
  • more federal spending to “stimulate job growth and retention”
  • more federal “aid to states and cities—including direct job creation at local levels—especially in education, health care, social services and first responder workforces”
  • more federal loans and grants to small businesses
  • more federal “infrastructure investment,” particularly in “clean energy enterprises” and “green jobs”
  • federally funded “training opportunities for workers who want to advance their careers”
  • the provision of “paid sick days and paid family leave for all workers”
  • an expansion of “access to the polls for everyone, including former felons,” so as to combat “voter disenfranchisement
  • an end to “discriminatory practices within the criminal-justice system,” particularly those practices that have a disparate impact on nonwhite minorities
  • an expansion of federally funded programs “to help ex-felony offenders reintegrate into society, including job training [and] educational opportunities”
  • increase[d] federal support to institutions of higher education that provide opportunities for underserved communities”
  • greater investment of taxpayer dollars “in public education systems, not prisons”
  • the provision of “more education opportunities for incarcerated youth”
  • the creation of more taxpayer-funded “affordable housing”
  • the creation of a “public option” in healthcare, where a government-run health insurance agency would compete with private insurance companies
  • support for the Dream Act, which would offer illegal-alien students a path to citizenship and would make them eligible for in-state college tuition discounts

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