ATLANTA PUBLIC SECTOR ALLIANCE (APSA)
The Atlanta Public Sector Alliance will engage in long-term, multi-issue, grassroots organizing in the Atlanta region. We will prioritize work at the base in order to build a people-centered, human rights movement that addresses the root causes of systemic injustice and oppression. Our Atlanta Human Rights Charter Campaign will focus strategically on the public sector as an arena of struggle. The Charter will articulate our vision of a new Atlanta that will realize, protect, and expand our human rights. Achieving our objectives demands developing the leadership of those most affected. Using the human rights framework, we will empower our membership with political analysis and a personal/political approach to building power and liberation that will be comprehensive and holistic.
The membership shall be open to all community groups, labor organizations, faith-based organizations, student/youth groups, organizations for the disabled and seniors, and individuals that promote social and economic justice, and who agree with the purpose of the Atlanta Public Sector Alliance. Our membership focus shall be on building a grassroots, rank and file base with public sector workers and the communities they serve.
We shall orient membership toward those most affected by public sector issues: such as people of color, women, immigrants/migrants, the transit dependent, public sector workers, seniors, youth, people with disabilities, and the poor. We shall prioritize recruitment and leader/organizer development representing affected constituencies while building coalition with membership based organizations.
An organization shall become a member of the APSA upon an affirmative vote of two-thirds at the General Assembly meeting. Individuals become members by signing the pledge card and contributing to the ongoing financial and political stability of the organization. The following factors will determine membership and voting rights: (1) dues of $10 a month/$120 a year; (2) in-kind donation in the amount of the same $10/$120.
ATLANTA JWJ TRANSITION MESSAGE
Atlanta Jobs with Justice has been an important part of our city’s movement-building community for more than twenty years. National Jobs with Justice was founded in 1987 with the vision of “lifting up workers’ rights struggles as part of a larger campaign for economic and social justice.” In 1988, the Atlanta Labor Council formed a Jobs with Justice committee. We then became part of the national JwJ network which is committed to engaging “workers and allies in campaigns to win justice in workplaces and in communities where working families live.”
In 2003, we were officially chartered and hired our first staff person, Terence Courtney. Since that time, we have learned many lessons from our work. We have been involved in a thoughtful process of both action and reflection. Learning from the critically important history of struggle in our region, we have been inspired by Ella Baker and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee which made development of the leadership of those most affected by oppression central to their work.
Over the years, we have been involved in numerous struggles in both the private and public sector. Support for union organizing at AT&T. Solidarity actions with the Teamsters at Overnite Trucking, UPS, and Waste Management. Campaign support for the United Food and Commercial Workers at Wal-Mart and Smithfield. Building bridges with the Latino community during the Immigrant Worker Freedom Ride of 2003. Fighting against prescriptions co-pays and the privatization of Grady Hospital. Challenging the destruction of public housing. Building a strong working relationship with the disability community and defeating fare increases at MARTA in 2005 and protecting and defending paratransit service in 2007.
Because of our relationship with the U.S. Human Rights Network, we began to see the benefits of applying the human rights framework, particularly to our work in the public sector. We were attracted to the idea of a comprehensive, holistic approach to not only critiquing the denial of our rights to health care, housing, education, and transit access but also the positive way this framework can advance an alternative program – a vision of Atlanta as a human rights city. We can also now connect our work to the international human rights movement which is challenging the policies of neoliberal globalization.
Conditions on the ground have shaped our work. We realized that the same people affected by the tearing down of Bowen Homes also use Grady, send their children to public schools, and are dependent on MARTA. We evolved from disconnected, single-issue campaigns to developing a public sector strategy that focuses on government’s responsibility to respect, protect, and fulfill our human rights.
We need an organizational approach that understands people face intersecting oppressions and do not live single issue lives. Focusing on those most affected led us to re-center our work more in the community. We still recognize the critical importance of unions, especially when strategic alliances can be built between public sector unions and the communities they serve. But our new approach no longer fits the model that JwJ has historically used so we are choosing to move forward in a new direction.
We are renaming ourselves the Atlanta Public Sector Alliance. We want to say to all our organizational partners, allies, and members: our work as you have come to know it in recent years will remain the same. We ask that you maintain and expand your level of participation, contribution and volunteerism, especially as we move in a direction that relies less on grants and foundations and more on the power of the people.
We are grateful to the national leadership, staff, and members of Jobs with Justice and the space they have given us to grow and experiment with new ideas. We are also grateful for their generous support over the years. We look forward to continuing to work together as we build the transformative movement we must have in these critical times.