Winning Public Policies that put People and the Planet First
The People’s Lobby’s top priority is winning public policies that put the needs of people and our planet before the interests of corporations and the very rich and that challenge structural economic, racial and gender inequality.
After two years of organizing, The People’s Lobby won a $13 Cook County Minimum Wage. This higher minimum wage will give more than 220,000 workers a raise and, when fully implemented, give full-time workers currently earning the state minimum wage an additional $10,000 per year.
We aimed for a $15 wage, drafting a ground-breaking ordinance requiring large corporations doing business in the county, including Chicago, to pay $15 per hour or pay a fee to the county to cover the cost of social services that poverty-wage workers need to survive. We fought hard, canvassing and phone banking and organizing tense meetings with county commissioners, testifying at countless board meetings, and taking direct action in the streets. Finally, with key commissioners expressing support for a straight minimum wage ordinance, we made a strategic compromise to bring the Cook County Minimum Wage in line with the City of Chicago. This victory is part of a larger struggle against corporations and the rich exploiting people and — in turn — will set the stage for bigger and better victories for The People’s Lobby and for the broader movement.
The People’s Lobby played a key role in the statewide coalition that won the Future Energy Jobs Bill. Thanks in large part to our efforts, legislators dumped a consumer-gouging demand charge sought by ComEd and a multibillion dollar coal bailout. The Future Energy Jobs Bill will double the amount of renewable energy in Illinois by 2025 and, for the first time ever, invest $500 million in targeted low-income solar and green jobs training that will bring tangible benefits to our communities. With a climate change denier entering the White House, state level victories like this are our best hope for addressing the threats posed by climate change.
In 2017, The People’s Lobby will continue to fight for our People and Planet First Budget in Springfield, a budget that would raise $23 billion in annual revenue by closing corporate tax loopholes and ensuring the wealthy pay their fair share so that Illinois can fully fund public education, provide universal health care, rebuild a robust social safety net, repair crumbling infrastructure, further our transition to green energy, and fully fund state pensions.
Building Progressive Political Power to Reclaim Government from Corporate Interests
In order to overcome the force of big money in politics, we need to organize large numbers of people to get involved. This requires us to do politics differently. Instead of putting candidates front and center in conversations with voters, we lead with our values and the policies we plan to win when we reclaim government. Then we introduce voters to the candidates we’ve endorsed who are committed to fight for our values and policies. We must also recruit and train people from our communities to run for office. And instead of closing up shop after the election, as the mainstream political parties do, we engage our growing base in fights for public policies that will increase investment in our communities.
During the 2016 Primary Elections, The People’s Lobby had more than 18,000 conversations to persuade voters in south suburban Cook County to vote for Kim Foxx for Cook County State’s Attorney based on her commitment to use her power as a prosecutor to address the crisis of mass incarceration, end the local war on drugs, and hold police accountable. Reclaim Chicago, our partnership with National Nurses United, endorsed an entire slate of progressive candidates, headed by Bernie Sanders for President and Kim Foxx. Five truly progressive candidates for the Illinois legislature rounded out the slate. Reclaim Chicago played a significant role in bringing Sanders from a 30-point deficit to within two points of winning Illinois. Reclaim Chicago’s entire slate of state legislature candidates, including three progressive challengers, won their primaries.
Connecting Analysis and Strategy
The progressive left has consistently lost ground over the past four decades. Some of this is our fault for being fractured and fragmented and for using strategies and tactics developed for a different era. The People’s Lobby puts critique, analysis and political education front and center in its training and communications. The Center for Progressive Strategy and Research, our think and do tank, runs a daylong analysis training and a monthly reading group for leaders. It has also published The Movement We Need, a manifesto for the American left. Download it at thepeopleslobbyusa.org/our-strategy.
In order to win, we need you!
The People’s Lobby is winning important victories, but we don’t have enough power to win all the resources we need for our communities. We need YOU to join this work by giving your financial support and your time!