Community members recently gathered to participate in “Ask The Experts” Community Strategy Session. The session, held in celebration of Women’s Equality Day and sponsored by 9to5 Milwaukee members and partner organizations, featured roundtable discussions where experts, on poverty and working without benefits, shared their work experiences.Community members, elected officials, and other leaders came to discuss: the meaning of a ‘good job,’ working without paid sick days and the difficulties of working at minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Countless stories were shared at each table as the elected officials listened. “We agreed that (we need) not just any job, (but a) good job,” said Jennifer Epps Addison as she shared her group’s discussion on the meaning of a ‘good job.’ “A good job allows you have time with family, decent quality of life, afford school supplies, a little fairness because there is more than enough to go around. We need more economic security for our families. We need not just any job, a good job.”
As the evening progressed, the roundtable discussions switched focus to talking more about what different levels of government can do to raise standards at work.
“Milwaukee’s workforce have seen some of the worst rollbacks of rights and standards in the nation with equal pay and paid sick days being repealed. We are not going to give up on low-wage workers because the state administration has turned their backs to us; we are going to fight for action at every level of government,” said Dana Schultz, encouraged by the community’s push for local campaigns to amend the living wage ordinances. “No jobs created by taxpayers, like janitors at schools, healthcare workers, or people who serve food at the VA, should be poverty wage jobs. Local government clearly has a role in the quality of these jobs.”
Congresswoman Gwen Moore spoke about the importance of voting, noting that there are real issues facing women and families that must be addressed by voting.
During the session, dozens of individuals registered to vote and 49 people completed 9to5’s action pledge cards. Additionally, and community members and elected officials shared in solutions to increase standards by amending the living wage ordinances in our city, county, and school board.
The discussions indicate that community groups and activists are taking people’s issues. Some of the solutions that came up to form the next steps including a campaign planning session with the group that was there and ways to organize blocks and wards for the upcoming elections.
9to5, Citizen Action of WI, Wisconsin Jobs Now, Working America, and United Wisconsin and Community Action Now joined in putting the event together. Elected officials who will participate are Representative Gwen Moore, the offices of Tammy Baldwin, State Representatives Chris Sinicki, State Senator Chris Larson, State Senator-Elect Nikiya Harris, County Supervisors Deanna Alexander, David Bowen, Jason Haas, John Weishan, Michael Mayo, Staff from Senator Lena Taylor and Common Council President Willie Hines, and MPS School Board Directors Larry Miller and Meagan Holman.