Comment: The Campaign for Wealth and Income issues a ‘Challenge to Boston’ on jobs

Last Saturday, residents from all over the city went to the Seaport to ask: “Where the good jobs are for us?” There, we kicked off the Campaign for Wealth and Income and publicly posted “A Challenge to Boston,” saying that the city’s residents, particularly its residents of color, have worked for decades to build the vibrant, creative city we all want to live in. We have done the work—neighborhood by neighborhood—to make the city attractive to others who want to live here. And we want to live here, too. We want to continue contributing to the city and our neighborhoods—to make it the city we all want. But to do that, we need our fair share of good jobs.

About 72 percent of Boston’s jobs go to people from the suburbs—and more than 75 percent of the income leaves the city every week, every paycheck, according to the 2011-2015 American Community Survey. Education and training are not enough. The city of Boston’s own data show that residents are paid less than suburbanites at every education level; that people of color are paid less than white people at every education level; that the median wage for a white worker in Boston with a four-year degree is $70,678 while for a black worker with a four-year degree, the median is just $37,771.

We are smart. We are experienced. We are skilled. We work hard. But we have been excluded. If some of us get discouraged, who can blame us?

On Saturday, as before, residents testified to our situation:

“I had a good job, but the rules were applied to me differently than to others. … I was pushed out. Others were pushed out, too. … Where is the job for my son? … I worked hard to go to college. It was supposed to lead to a good future for me and my family. But now my job pays so little, my son says there’s no point in him finishing school.”

Public funds, public land, and public decisions are contributing to jobs and development in Boston – $18 billion in the Seaport alone, according to news reporting. It is our real estate taxes that pay these bills. And our taxes have soared in the last few years.

If public resources and decisions are benefiting developers and employers, then we demand our share of the benefits, too. We want good jobs for the working people of Boston, for the people of color of Boston. We are proposing a new ordinance to address these issues. “Good Jobs for Boston Residents” proposes jobs that can sustain a family in Boston starting at $22/hour with 75 percent full time; 50 percent of new hires at all levels must be Boston residents, 50 percent people of color and 50 percent women; and a legal mechanism that allows for community enforcement and a “new jobs” pipeline connecting residents to downtown, Seaport, and Longwood positions.

We challenge the city to respond to the problem now, to take up our ordinance, and to follow through on the other good jobs promises that have already been made.

Signed by the following members of the Boston Jobs Coalition’s Campaign for Wealth and Income:

Chuck Turner, Darnell Johnson, Dick Monks, Marvin Martin, Priscilla Flint-Banks, and Weezy Waldstein.

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