This month we kicked off WEC’s demand for Public Banking for New Jersey in a webinar that centered the voices of organizers, activists, workers and experts. We heard from Trina Scordo, executive director at New Jersey Communities United, Beverly Brown Ruggia, Financial Justice organizer at New Jersey Communities United, and Julie Plotkin, Associate Director of Education and Evaluation Research at the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) on why a democratically operated, publicly owned bank committed to investing in the public good is critical for their members’ success.

We also heard directly from workers on the ground, including: 

Nikki Baker, an educational professional in the Paterson public school district, who spoke to unacceptable conditions in the district’s school buildings, and the need for serious capital investment to fix these issues, including severe mold problems, and HVAC and air circulation which makes the building particularly dangerous during the COVID pandemic. 

Ivan Wei, who spoke to his family’s struggles as small business owners of color in New Jersey, including consistent neglect or exploitation from big banks, making it near impossible to open an account or gain access to a non-predatory line of credit. Ivan highlighted that community banks and credit unions, the kind a public bank would support, have been far more supportive and collaborative in helping his family grow their business.

Finally, we heard from Les Leopold, Executive Director at The Labor Institute, who outlined how a public bank works, and the ways in which it can help our state sever its dependence on Wall Street and extreme public debt to predatory private interest, while providing non-predatory lines of credit towards social goals that make life better for every New Jerseyan, like school building infrastructure and small businesses. 

Thank you to all of our speakers, co-organizers and co-sponsors, and to everyone who joined us! 

And, if you missed it, please be sure to let New Jersey state leadership know we need a public bank!