An Economic Bill of Rights for the 21st Century


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8:30-9:00 AM      Continental breakfast

9:00 -9:15 AM     Welcome remarks, Robert Pollack, Director, Columbia University Seminars Program

9:15 – 9:30           Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Economic Bill of Rights, historical background – David Woolner, Senior Fellow and Resident Hyde Park Historian, The Roosevelt Institute

9:30 -11:00          PANEL I:  Economic Rights:  What are they? How are they interconnected?  To what extent have they been achieved?  The economics (then and now) of securing the right to work along with the other rights. The social costs of not securing these rights.   Updating these rights for the 21st century.

CHAIR:  June Zaccone, Associate Professor Emerita of Economics, HofstraUniversity


Philip Harvey, Professor of Law and Economics, Rutgers University, Camden
William Quigley, Prof. of Law, Loyola University
Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg, Professor Emerita of Social Policy, Adelphi University
Sheila D. Collins, Professor Emerita, William Paterson University


11:00 – 12:30      PANEL II:  Full Employment and the Right to A Job:  What does it mean?   How do we get there?

CHAIR:  Eduardo Rosario, Executive Board, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (NYC Chapter);


Helen Lachs Ginsburg, Professor Emerita of Economics, Brooklyn College, CUNY
Darrick Hamilton, Associate Professor of Economics and Urban Policy, Milano Graduate School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy, The New School
Dean Baker, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research


12:30 – 2:30         LUNCH

INTRODUCTION OF SPEAKER:  Chuck Bell, Programs Director, Consumers Union

Speaker, The Honorable John Conyers

2:30-4:00            ROUNDTABLE:  How can we secure these rights in the present political climate?

CHAIR:  Logan Martinez, Outreach Coordinator, National Jobs for All Coalition, the Jobs for All Campaign, and the MiamiValley Full Employment Council; President of Organize! Ohio; member of the Steering Committee of People’s Empowerment Coalition of Ohio, and State Council of the Ohio’s Single-Payer Action Network


Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor and Publisher, The Nation
Gary Dorrien, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary
Michael Lighty, Director of Public Policy, California Nurses’ Association/National Nurses United
Chris Policano, Director of Communications, AFSCME
David Woolner, Senior Fellow and Resident Hyde Park Historian, The Roosevelt Institute


4:00– 4:30             What Have we Learned?  What’s Next?

CLOSING SPEAKER:  Peter Marcuse, Professor Emeritus of Urban Planning, Columbia University, co-editorCities for People, Not for Profit, and Searching for the Just City


Gertrude Schaffner Goldberg
Sheila D. Collins
Helen Lachs Ginsburg


Columbia University Seminar  on Full Employment, Social Welfare & Equity
The Roosevelt Institute
The Nation
The National Jobs for All Coalition
Workers Defense League
Dollars & Sense
Greater NY Religion-Labor Coalition
Modern Money Network
The Worker Institute at Cornell, ILR School
The Murphy Center for Worker Education and Labor Studies, CUNY
Union Theological Seminary


The University Seminars program at Columbia University was founded in 1945 by Professor Frank Tannenbaum and his wife, Jane Belo Tannenbaum, who established a trust to be included in Columbia’s permanent endowment. Professor Tannenbaum was interested in having groups of Columbia professors and other experts explore matters beyond the scope of any single discipline. Intellectual fellowship, he believed, “encompasses both the theorist and the practitioner.”  Today, following that sentiment, the Seminars link Columbia with the intellectual resources of its surrounding communities. This outreach also offers to both worlds the fruits of interaction and mutual criticism, as well as the advantage of close contacts.  For further information,


             The Columbia University Seminar on Full Employment, Social Welfare and Equity is one of eighty-eight seminars that currently comprise the University Seminars program.  Founded in 1987, it was originally called the Seminar on Full Employment.  The name change reflected recognition that the scope of the Seminar had expanded because of the many interrelationships among full employment, social welfare and equity. For example, social welfare policies such as Social Security and Medicare, really workplace benefits, were closely related to the level and continuity of employment.

The impetus for the Seminar’s establishment came from the late Professor Sumner Rosen, an economist at the Columbia University School of Social Work, who, at a time of declining interest in full employment, had been working on the issue with a diverse network of academics, social welfare professionals, clergy, trade unionists, and social activists that became, in 1994, the National Jobs for All Coalition.  Professor Rosen thought one function of the seminar would be to provide these reformers with the most informed thinking about unemployment and its solutions.

The Seminar focuses on analytical and policy issues and includes cross-national perspectives, primarily in the other relatively rich nations with which the United States can be compared.  The aim is to identify and clarify the more difficult and central intellectual questions which relate to and affect the national commitment and capability to assure full employment, social welfare and equity.

Participants in the seminar include New York metropolitan area faculty and graduate students from a diversity of fields, including economics, sociology, social welfare, history, political science, social work and labor studies.  Others are clergy and staff of government or non-profit agencies, labor unions, and other organizations.  Several are leaders of the National Jobs for All Coalition. Parts of books and a number of journal articles were initially presented at seminars and benefited from the comments of participants.

As well as drawing speakers from its own ranks, the Seminar has had a wide variety of distinguished guest speakers from the United States and nearly a dozen other countries, including three Nobel Laureates in economics–two of them Columbia University professors: Joseph Stiglitz and William Vickrey. At the time of his untimely death, shortly after being informed of his Nobel award, Vickrey was an active member of the Full Employment Seminar. He firmly believed that full employment is not only desirable and necessary for a decent society but is also achievable.  The Seminar on Full Employment, Social Welfare and Equity strives to follow in that tradition.


            Since our founding in 1987, we have had the privilege of working with three different Seminar directors, Professors Aaron Warner, Robert Belknap and Robert Pollack.  This has been an enriching experience for the Seminar.  We especially want to thank the Seminars program for its generous contribution to this conference and its Director, Robert Pollack, for encouraging us to undertake it.  Without the supportive efforts of Alice Newton, Associate Director of the University Seminars program and also Pamela Guardia, Administrative Assistant and Summer Hart, Archive and Web Administrator, this conference could not have happened.  Thanks also to our sponsors for helping to publicize and otherwise support this effort.  Others who also contributed their time and expertise to this conference include Chuck Bell, Noreen Connell, David Cundy, Shanna Farrell, Eva Lu, and Robert Pollin.

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