The Game-Changers and the Power Behind Our Victories

Local activists joined funders and national partners at the Ford Foundation December 10 to celebrate Family Values @ Work’s tenth anniversary. A snowy day didn’t stop 150 people from hearing Ford President Darren Walker applaud the winners of the 2013 Game Changer Awards and watch a video about the 20 million people who have benefited from the coalitions that make up FV@W.

Ford President Walker described this as a “time of peril” but also “a time of possibility for economic progress and social justice.” He praised the activists in FV@W for setting “a powerful example for how campaigns for social justice ought to be managed – building broad, diverse coalitions” and demonstrating “that when we harness the power of the grassroots – when we work together toward a common goal – change is within reach.”

BravoWalkerSteinemGloria Steinem accepted her Community Partner Game Changer award with a rousing speech that began by asking, “Why is it we don’t already have paid sick days?” She noted that the women’s movement “has always been more about the sticky floor of the pink-collared ghetto than the glass ceiling.” Among her many applause lines was a call for collective bargaining.

The Community Activist Game Changer award went to Natasha West-Baker, who didn’t just join the fight for paid sick days in Seattle – she helped lead it. Natasha described what it was like growing up being told you have two strikes against you: being Black and being female.

Ford Picture Natasha

“What Family Values @ Work and my union [UFCW Local 21] did was give me my voice,” she said. ”That’s power.”

The award itself was a photo book called “The Power Behind Our Wins,” filled with photos from all 21 states in the FV@W network of workers and families who’ve become involved in these campaigns.

Portland business owner Jim Houser was honored to accept the Local Business Partner Game Changer award. He called paid sick days “the right but also the smart thing to do,” and added, “FV@W shows what thousands of business owners like myself already know: paid sick days and family leave insurance benefit families, business and the economy.”

Although he wasn’t able to accept the award in person, Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio sent a letter proudly accepting the Policy Champion Game Changer Award for his role in making paid sick days a key part of the fight for economic equality. “It is not one person, but all of us – together – that makes progress for working families possible,” he said. Calling the New York City paid sick days win “the product of years of advocacy,” he added, “I am looking forward to expanding the current law so that all New Yorkers will be able to afford to take the day off when they are sick – without putting their jobs at risk. Policies like paid sick days and family leave insurance are not just laudable; in today’s economy, they are imperative.”

Mayor-Elect de Blasio praised Family Values @ Work because the organization “refuses to settle for the status quo – and won’t stop working until every American has access to earned sick days and paid family leave.”

Click here to see our digital program book, including a timeline of all the wins our coalitions and their partners have accomplished over the last 10 years. Thank you to the many partners who sent in ads to celebrate with us, and to the early donors who have kicked off our 10th Anniversary Fund to make sure we continue to add to these wins.

And huge thanks also to Sekou Luke, the brilliant filmmaker who made our tenth anniversary video, with animation from Wilson Chan. Click here to see one segment of it on Upworthy – a NJ dad’s story about the need for paid family leave. And click here to see the story of a Seattle mom’s story about why we need paid sick days.