A4E member Steve Piazza is a writer and poet living in Athens, Georgia with his wife and cat. He is a retired educator who advocates for education, workers’ rights and global welfare. Interested in writing for our blog? Get in touch!
Everyone wants justice, but what exactly is it and how do we get it? One thing is clear: justice means being involved.
Established in 2003, the Economic Justice Coalition (EJC) believes that a just world ought to provide workers with meaningful and sustained employment so that they and their families may enjoy an inherently decent quality of life. EJC’s ongoing goals include:
- advocating for increased worker wages and benefits
- educating the public
- assisting individuals who start up businesses
- promoting voter registration
EJC reaches out to local employers to underscore the advantages of improving wages and benefits. Its efforts have already had a major impact on workers with the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government, the University of Georgia and Piedmont Hospital.
Committed to changing the employment culture, EJC also recognizes many employers as “Worker Friendly,” an EJC program encouraging employers to pay workers above minimum wage and provide basic benefits including health care, sick and vacation leave and retirement.
EJC facilitates the development of Supporting Worker Cooperatives, businesses that are owned and run by their workers. Peachy Green Cleaning Co-op, Unity Labor Cooperatives, Above and Beyond Health Care and Social Enterprises are just a few examples.
According to EJC executive director Linda Lloyd, the major focus these days is on the political front. Workers’ wages are so vital that Lloyd believes the issue must be added to Athens-Clarke County’s Envision Athens Action Agenda. “Getting it in there and keeping it in there is important,” said Lloyd.
Getting people out to vote is just as crucial as it enables the message of economic justice to be heard at the local, state and national levels. EJC efforts over the years have been paying off; the group is responsible for 14,500 voter registrations since 2004.
Lloyd has a special request for Athens for Everyone (A4E) members: help get the word out about voter registration. EJC continues to do voter registration training and to spend time registering voters, one by one. Lloyd encourages younger folks to contribute however they can because someday they’ll be taking over the work; “We don’t want to keep repeating the injustices of the past,” she said.
Specifically, EJC needs volunteers to:
- maintain its web page
- increase EJC presence on social media
- help expand voter registration efforts to areas beyond public housing
Lloyd herself stays involved because things take way too long, and she’s “tired of waiting for someone else to do what needs to get done.”
Becoming active for justice starts with the heart, and it’s clear that EJC has plenty of it.
To learn more about the Economic Justice Coalition, visit http://www.economicjusticecoalition.org/
Athens for Everyone