Though the unemployment rate has gone down, there are millions of Americans still struggling to find jobs. The Fair Share Alliance (FSA), a national non-profit group that recently opened a branch of its organization in Newton, strives to help these Americans by giving them a better chance at finding a good job.
“We’re a citizen advocacy organization, so the mission is to make sure everyone has a fair shot at a good job, a secure future, and a strong voice in our democracy,” said Jane Wiedenbeck, field organizer for Massachusetts. “Essentially, we do work on the ground – grassroots type of work to make sure that local and national governments are putting policies in place that support your average citizen over corporate profits.”
Rob Balint, A&S ’13, became involved with FSA after Wiedenbeck gave a talk to his Comparative Social Movements class.
“I really liked the idea of powering ahead with this new industry of clean energy,” he said. “At the same time that would increase job growth, which is desperately needed right now.”
FSA uses media coordination, grassroots campaigning, and coalition building for its several nationwide campaigns.
Three of its biggest projects are campaigns to close tax loopholes and end tax breaks for large corporations and the wealthy, improve healthcare, prevent cuts to funding for schools, and renew a series of tax credits for wind energy production.
“They’re really critical to the wind industry and the clean energy industry as a whole,” Wiedenbeck said of the Production Tax Credits (PTC). “They’re critical to make sure we’re adding jobs in the clean energy sector. Essentially, renewing these production tax credits for wind this year will create or save 54,000 jobs across the U.S.”
According to saveusawindjobs.com, a group that is now part of FSA’s coalition supporters of the wind energy tax credits, the PTC allows developers to use private financing for wind projects. The site says that if the U.S. generated 20 percent of its electricity from wind power, it could create 500,000 jobs by 2030.
The American Wind Association, another member of FSA’s coalition, reports that wind farms in Massachusetts power about 4,500 homes each year. This number is expected to increase significantly since the installation of Cape Wind, the country’s first offshore wind project, can now go forward after being approved in 2010.
“Massachusetts is critically important,” Wiedenbeck said. “We’re working to make sure that Senator Scott Brown stands up for these policies because he’s a relatively moderate senator and could go either way. He has been supportive of clean energy projects in the past but has not spoken out yet on this issue, so we definitely want to make sure he takes the lead on this and supports putting people back to work in the clean energy industry.”
Because the FSA uses grassroots methods to achieve its goals, Balint and Wiedenbeck stressed the importance of getting the support of students like those at Boston College.
“There’s a strong environmental responsibility element, and we’ve got a lot of geoscience majors and environmental studies minors that really want to be a part of this,” Balint said. “On the other side, there’s some good political experience to be had … you can try to get your message across at a grassroots level.”
Aside from its wind production campaign, FSA is working on several campaigns specific to Massachusetts.
According to its website, these include investing in infrastructure, which would create more than 11,000 local jobs; providing funding to prevent public servants such as police officers and teachers from being fired, thereby protecting 6,300 jobs; and reforming unemployment insurance to help put up to 123,000 Massachusetts residents back to work.
“There’s kind of a responsibility to pay back the state where your college is,” Balint said.