By Veronica Wilson
A new report Reimagined Recovery: Black Workers, the Public Sector, and COVID-19 argues expanding jobs in the public sector is the starting point in recovery efforts that place racial equity at the core. Reimagined Recovery is the first product by the Center for the Advancement of Racial Equity (CARE) at Work, a new initiative at the UCLA Labor Center led by Lola Smallwood-Cuevas, founder of the Los Angeles Black Worker Center.
The report notes COVID-19 exacerbates a racial injustice throughline of stacked health, economic and climate crises. Recent unconstitutional extrajudicial public executions by police have sparked mass protests demanding a stop to violence and a reimagining of the country’s social and economic structures. With this in mind, the report looks at spending priorities.
The study reminds us that for the past century, Black community members were systematically excluded from the private sector and found jobs as government expanded public services. The report details how Black women, in particular, entered public sector employment and that work in education, healthcare, infrastructure, and transportation provide quality jobs vital to our community as a whole. But privatization since the 1980s left a shrinking public sector bereft of resources. Among a set of recommendations, Reimagined Recovery concretely calls for state and local funding in federal coronavirus relief packages. Along with local policies such as job training with equity and climate at the center, the report gives us a point of departure to imagine recovery that begins with racial justice.
Veronica is the Los Angeles/California Organizer for LNS.