What We Do

In 2016 community groups and public sector unions will join together, go on offense and “bargain for the common good.” We will build broad based campaigns that demand common good solutions to win progressive revenue and advance community fights such as affordable housing, universal pre-k and expanded after school programs, and improved city services, as just a few examples. These will, of course, be determined by the local coalitions. Will you join us and take the lead in rebuilding our communities, adequately fund public services and protect good quality, middle class public sector jobs?

For too long we have been on the defensive: Unions have been under attack and the communities they serve have had to cope with painful cuts in essential services. But next year, collective bargaining agreements covering over a million public service workers around the country are expiring in communities where more than fifty million people live. We hope you will join community groups and unions who are already working together to transform these 2016 contract negotiations into a broader community fight and to wage common good campaigns outside of bargaining as well.

In May 2014, 130 unionists, community organization and researchers gathered at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, to plan a new approach to public budget campaigns that united public service workers and the communities they serve. We call it “Bargaining for the Common Good.” Representatives from community organizations and unions came from Washington, Oregon, California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ohio. Local unions attending bargain on behalf of nearly ten percent of the nation’s unionized public service workers. We reached consensus on these broad points:

Work together and align our interests

Acting alone, public service workers and unions cannot defend themselves indefinitely and community organizations cannot reverse years of service cuts. Public service workers and community partners must work together to go on the offensive. In the same way that budget fights provide arenas for union and community members to work together, collective bargaining offers unions a unique opportunity to engage unionized public service workers and community allies around demands and campaigns that align their mutual interests around the common good.

Act Now

With a slew of major contracts coming up for renegotiation and no national elections to distract our focus we can make 2016 a turning point year in the public sector if enough of us pull together.

Challenge the financial sector

Going on the offensive must involve taking on the forces of financialization, privatization, and tax-scamming that are distorting the economy, driving surging inequality, and opening the public sector to private plunder.

Work local to act national

The fragmentation of public service unions into tens of thousands of different bargaining units and the proliferation of issue-based advocacy groups makes it easier for the proponents of austerity to set the terms of the debate. By acting in unison and bargaining for the common good, a determined band of unions and community groups in key states can change the national conversation.


We ask that you join us in this effort to build a Common Good movement in 2016. This effort will draw on the coordinated actions of local unions and community organizations joining together and incorporating common demands such as:

  • Complete transparency on all state, county, school district, and municipal financial transactions;
  • Decriminalization of youth in our schools;
  • Clawback provisions that allow governments to recover funds lost to predatory financing;
  • Expanded after school programs;
  • Elimination of tax abatements that failed to produce promised jobs, or privatization contracts that failed to deliver the promised cost-savings;
  • Investment in the creation of quality, affordable housing;
  • Minimum labor standards, which all contractors receiving government contracts must meet, and more.


Who We Are

We invite you and your organization to join us and link your local campaign with our larger national effort. To find out how to get involved, please contact us at contact@bargainingforthecommongood.org.

Alex Caputo-Pearl, President, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA)

Stacy Chamberlain, Collective Bargaining Director, AFSCME Council 75

Donald Cohen, Executive Director, In the Public Interest

Bruce Colburn, Vice President SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin

Heather Conroy, Executive Director, SEIU Local 503

Leigh Dingerson, Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS)

Jennifer Epps-Addison Executive Director, Wisconsin Jobs Now

Lara Granich, Executive Director, Missouri Jobs with Justice

Karen Hart, President SEIU, Local 925

Keith Kelleher, President, SEIU Healthcare Illinois

Jonathan Knapp, President, Seattle Education Association

Christina Livingston, Executive Director, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE)

Sheryl Mathis, Executive Director, Ohio Education Association

Boyd McCamish, Executive Director AFSCME Council 48

Greg Nammacher, Secretary Treasurer, SEIU Local 26

Kirk Noden, Executive Director, Ohio Organizing Collaborative

Amisha Patel, Executive Director, The Grassroots Collaborative

Liz Perlman, Executive Director, AFSCME Local 3299

Bob Peterson President Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association

Denise Rodriguez, President, Saint Paul Federation of Teachers

David Romick, President, Dayton Education Association

Hetty Rosenstein, Director, Communications Workers of America New Jersey

Joseph P. Rugola, Executive Director, Ohio Association of Public School Employees, AFSCME

Richard Sanders, Executive Director, Oregon Education Association

Doran Schrantz, Executive Director, Isaiah

Jesse Sharkey, Vice-President, Chicago Teachers Union

Gilda Valdez, Chief of Staff, SEIU Local 721

Rebecca Saldaña, Executive Director, Puget Sound Sage

Join Us!

Interested in finding out how you can bargain for the common good in your city and community? Get in touch!