I am a lifelong organizer—in labor and community settings—and am proud to say that I helped spearhead the living-wage campaign in Baltimore twenty years ago this fall. Our campaign was led by the religious leaders of BUILD—Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation—along with a team of determined low-wage service workers. While we received support from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), this effort was conceived, planned, implemented and owned by local civic and clergy leaders alongside local workers. We won in Baltimore. Then, two years later, with almost no support from organized labor, we won in New York City. And we found that we had sparked a wave of living wage battles in cities and counties across the country that continues to this day.
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