Good Jobs First (GJF) is an advocacy organization supporting left-of-center economic policy heavily funded by labor unions and left-wing institutional foundations. Left-wing activist Greg LeRoy founded GJF in 1998.
GJF is heavily anti-business, opposing tax cuts and tax incentives for large corporations, and advocating for left-leaning economic policies. The group publishes anti-business research papers, advocates for community organizing and labor unions,and provides research assistance to anti-business campaigns.
GJF is very pro-union, stating “unionization is economic development. Unions provide substantial funding to Good Jobs First, with total union spending exceeding $150,000 in annual reports by labor organizations. 
Executive director Greg LeRoy founded GJF in 1998 after receiving the Public Interest Pioneer Award from the left-of-center Stern Family Fund. In fall 2010, LeRoy began collaboration with Larry Hanley, international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, to organize union leaders and public transit riders against fare increases and transit worker layoffs. The duo hosted community organizing “boot camps” and with the help of the Rockefeller Foundation published an instruction manual for organizing the general public.
LeRoy is the author of two books on left-wing economic policy: No More Candy Store: States and Cities Making Job Subsidies Accountable and The Great American Jobs Scam: Corporate Tax Dodging and the Myth of Job Creation.
Labor Union Associations
GJF receives a great deal of support from national and local labor unions, both by way of grants and contributions, as well as fees for assisting these unions in a legal capacity.
Between 2006 and 2018, GJF received $200,000 from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), $130,000 from the Service Employees International Union, more than $260,000 in grants and fees from the National Education Association of Indiana and the American Federation of Teachers, as well as $80,000 and $60,000 respectively from the Laborers Union and the Teamsters.
For its part, GJF made a payment of $43,000 to the Amalgamated Transit Union in 2011.
On June 14, 2012, in conjunction with Amalgamated Transit Union, GJF announced the formation of the advocacy group Americans for Transit (A4T). The organization purports to combat rising fares and cuts to transit service, all the while advocating for better pay for transit workers. It further supports the “Transit Equity Day” campaign, which would see public transportation declared a “civil right.”
Good Jobs First called for the unionization of the as-yet-unhired workers at an announced Volvo plant in South Carolina, lamenting the state’s right-to-work legislation and then-Governor Nikki Haley’s (R-SC) pro-worker-freedom stance.
In 2014, GJF waged a campaign of support to help the United Auto Workers (UAW) unionize the Volkswagen manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Before the 2014 employee vote on whether or not to unionize, Governor Bill Haslam (R-TN) told the Washington Post that he was having great difficulty convincing suppliers to open facilities near the Volkswagen plant, facilities which would give Chattanooga an advantage over Volkswagen’s Mexico plant in the manufacture of a new SUV line. The governor related that the supply companies had specifically refused to come if the Volkswagen plant was unionized. The governor and Washington Post cited “overly restrictive union work rules and overly generous union wages and benefits” as having been crucial to the decline of the American auto industry. When the plant workers voted against unionization, the UAW decided to contest the election on the grounds that the governor and state senators had interfered by making a nearly $300 million tax subsidy offer contingent on “works council discussions between the State of Tennessee and VW being concluded to the satisfaction of the State of Tennessee.” Good Jobs First insinuated that this was a violation of a previous U.S. Supreme court decision, Golden State Transit Corps vs. Los Angeles in which the court ruled that the city could not interfere with a taxi franchise because of a union strike. UAW subpoenaed Governor Haslam before the National Labor Relations Board, but at the last minute withdrew its appeal and asked the governor to reinstate the tax subsidy “no strings attached.”GJF also opposes the anti-UAW stance of Nissan and claims jobs created by Nissan in Mississippi as “substandard,” and praising the UAW’s attempts to organize the plant.
GJF also supports card-check neutrality unionization, in which no election to unionize is held. Instead, the employees simply present a certain number of signed union cards to management, and the company is automatically unionized. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation pointed out that these cards are often signed under false premises. GJF referred to Gamesa as “exemplary” in relation to a card-check deal with United Steelworkers.
GJF expresses suspicion of Tax Increment Financing (TIF), in which a local increase in property taxes may be used to finance projects in other areas of the city. GJF voiced support for the Chicago Teachers Union strike of 2019 which spotlighted, among other issues, a TIF deal with a local Hyatt Hotel.
GJF has also advocated for a reinterpretation of the Davis-Bacon Act. Dating from 1931, this legislation provides that publicly funded building projects pay laborers the “prevailing” union-level wage for their work. GJF wants to see this requirement applied to projects that receive partial public funding or tax subsidies, or applied universally to all laborers of projects in which one aspect receives public funding.
Good Jobs First opinion papers frequently support so-called “Community Benefits Agreements” in project development; such “benefits” can include the building of low-income housing or the guarantee of a certain number of local hires from the area to which the new building or project will be relocated, may be attached to the local community’s support for that development project. GJF suggests that members of the local community block the acquisition of building and zoning permits as leverage to attain desired outcomes such as higher pay and employee benefits.
New York Living Wage Law
In 2012, then-New York City Council Chair Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) spearheaded the passage of the Living Wage Law, which stipulated that any company receiving more than $1 million in public funds world be required to pay its employees a higher minimum wage. At the time this was $10 per hour or $11.50 if the company did not provide employee benefits (compared to the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour). This legislation was similar to Prevailing Wage law, also pioneered by Quinn, which would have applied to security guards and custodians in buildings in which the city was a majority lease holder.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I, later D-NY) vetoed both pieces of legislation, and when the City Council overrode him, he filed suit to have them both overturned. He was successful in stopping the Prevailing Wage law, it being struck down on the grounds that it “illegally preempted the state’s minimum wage law.” He met with less success against the Living Wage law, which he argued was ““materially indistinguishable from the Prevailing Wage Law,” and which he compared to communism.
GJF not only endorsed this bill, but participated in a counter-study to undermine a previous study funded by the New York City Economic Development Corporation which highlighted the negative impact of the legislation on job creation and economic growth.
After Bloomberg left office, his successor, Bill De Blasio (D), expanded the legislation on September 30, 2014 in Executive Order No. 7, such that the “living wage” will change annually adjusted by the Consumer Price Index. Note that as of 2019 New York’s minimum wage (set to increase gradually to $15 an hour) now exceeds the living wage ($13.50 an hour) so under this legislation, the living wage has been adjusted to match the minimum wage.
Opposition to Tax Cuts
Good Jobs First focuses heavily on promoting public opposition to corporate tax relief. Through the use of its “Subsidy Tracker” tool introduced in 2010 at the state and local level, GJF compiles detailed tax incentive data of nearly three thousand corporations in an effort to create a portrait of widespread government corruption under the auspices of “corporate welfare.” In February 2018, this program was expanded to include data on federal subsidies. In an interview with Ralph Nader, GJF Research Director Philip Materra referred to these subsidies as “bribes.”
Opposition to New York Amazon Deal
In 2017, technology company Amazon announced plans to construct a second headquarters, and began accepting bids from around the U.S. Long before the winners were announced, Good Jobs First voiced opposition to the expansion, specifically objecting to the “public auction” nature of Amazon’s announcement.
GJF demanded total transparency of Amazon’s internal negotiations with each of the 20 finalists, calling for “posting online the full, unredacted text of every document that a government submitted to Amazon.” In June 2018, LeRoy publicly speculated that Amazon employees’ taxes might be paid to the company, not New York State. In a November 2018 press release, while admitting they were uninformed about any of the details of the deal between Amazon and New York, GJF continued to voice its opposition to the deal, calling for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) to “schedule multiple town halls in the project footprints for local citizens to debate them.” Among other concerns raised by GJF were the necessity of “gentrification buffers” through low-income housing, and the concern that such rapid growth would place an unbearable tax burden on the surrounding area of the new headquarters.
The proposed expansion enjoyed widespread local public support, with New Yorkers wearing “NY loves Amazon” buttons, and local community leaders declaring their endorsement of the deal with the hope that Queens natives would benefit from the influx of jobs and capital. Amazon later rescinded its offer to New York City on February 14, 2019, costing New York an estimated 25,000 new jobs. The New York Times cited mounting political pressure from a highly vocal minority of union members, community organizers, and legislators (including U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)), with special emphasis on the concern that this pressure would continue to be an obstacle in the future for years as the project went forward. GJF framed the deal’s collapse as a victory for community organizers.
Opposition to Interstate Economic Competition
Good Jobs First strongly opposes interstate economic competition, preferring instead the European Union’s regulatory model. GJF suggests a five-part solution to the problem of interstate competition: “State Pacts, Subsidy Caps, a Federal Law-Message against Job Piracy, a Positive Federal ‘Carrot,’ and Process Reforms.” In 2019 Kansas and Missouri became the first regions outside the EU to sign legislation prohibiting the relocation of businesses across state lines for tax subsidies; GJF cheered this action as a victory in ending “border wars” between economically competing neighboring states.
After Ohio subsidized Daimler-Chrysler to build a new replacement plant in Toledo instead of rebuilding the plant in Michigan, GJF assisted in a research capacity in the 2005 Supreme Court case Cuno v. Daimler-Chrysler in which the plaintiff alleged that “she and her grandchildren were harmed by an impoverished tax base that froze teachers’ salaries for seven years and meant schools had virtually no computers.” The case was dismissed in 2006.