Local Progress and its sister project Local Progress Action engage in strategic campaigns and issue working groups in order to win pivotal legislative victories at the local level, build state power, and to elevate important issues to the national stage. Our theory of change is rooted in a simple concept: we believe that local governments are the leading edge for progressive change in our country. By connecting efforts across cities we can accelerate policy progress and build a movement from the ground up to shift politics and policy at the state and federal level. Our strategic campaigns work seeks to achieve this by building connections between our cities and by building sophisticated “inside/outside” strategy that aligns the work of elected officials with community-based partners, progressive labor unions, policy advocates, and other progressive movement organizations.
We seek to amplify the voices of some of the country’s strongest progressive political leaders and impacted communities as we fight back against the unjust and immoral impacts of state and federal policies that inflict harm on people of color, immigrant communities, and working people. Through this work, we engage members from all across the country, from cities large and small to rural communities. We know that there are progressives at the local level everywhere and our issue work unites their efforts. Our issues ebb and flow, but we are currently educating, connecting, accelerating, and amplifying our members’ work on Affordable Housing, Immigrant Rights, Police Reform, and Economic Justice.
Immigrants, refugees, and our principle of welcoming new arrivals to the US are under attack, both through a concerted effort to end our immigration system as we know it and through the deportation of millions of hard working people. We are working with LP members to use the power of their offices to protect immigrant communities in their respective jurisdictions through limiting collaboration with ICE, increasing access to universal representation and promoting criminal justice reform to keep people out of the immigration pipeline. We are also committed to reducing the impact of inland enforcement and scare tactics like raids, and fighting to pass a clean DREAM Act at the federal level.
Local Progress Action helped coordinate a sign-on letter of state and local elected officials calling for abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and an end to its brutal immigration enforcement practices. As of August 2018, nearly 200 state and local elected officials had signed on.
In April of 2017, we brought together elected officials from 40 municipalities to strategize on what cities and counties would do to combat the Trump administration’s efforts to increase interior enforcement and take punitive measures against sanctuary cities. At the event, we released a practical hands-on toolkit for local elected officials pursuing sanctuary city policies. More than 100 elected officials pledged to uphold and expand their policies.
Since then, Local Progress members have taken 150 actions in 94 cities to support local immigrant communities, passing laws to limit police collaboration with ICE, calling on the administration to pass a clean DREAM act and set aside funding to support with application fees, setting aside funding for legal defense funds for immigrants in deportation hearings, and so much more.
Police reform continues to become a growing area of work as more elected officials are committing to ending police killings and the War on Drugs, as well as reversing mass incarceration. We are developing an evaluation tool that will allow LP members to compare policing policy across cities in a consistent way. Some areas of our focus of work include decriminalization, ending collaboration with ICE, prison diversion, civilian oversight, bans on profiling, increasing data and transparency and more. Once we finish the tool, LP members will evaluate their cities’ police forces, identify shared priorities for collaborative work and publicize these findings.
In December 2017, we held our first-ever racial justice summit as 60 Local Progress members and executive directors of black-led community organizations from the Center for Popular Democracy network came together in Baltimore, MD for a conversation on racial equity. We dove deep into Local Progress’s police reform work: talking about everything from asset forfeiture and use of force to officer training and bans on profiling, as well as thinking more broadly about what public safety means in our communities and ways in which our budgeting processes can bring about equity.
As a result, in July 2018, LP and the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) launched our police reform toolkit that looks at a series of metrics (e.g. Independent Oversight, Data and Transparency, Demilitarization, Pre-booking Diversion Programs, etc.) and provides resources that local electeds and their staff can use to assess their city’s current standing and progress across a number of policy areas, drawing from best practices from practitioners and policy groups around the country.
Cities have led successful efforts from raising the minimum wage to guaranteeing paid sick days and predictable scheduling in dozens of cities across the country. These efforts have collectively improved the lives of millions of people across the country. We are focused on continuing this policy progress, as well as working with members to support worker organizing, raise standards across industries, and strengthen union power.
We officially launched our economic justice work in Spring 2018 when we put out a toolkit preparing members for the Supreme Court decision on Janus v. AFSCME Council 31. Subsequently, more than 20 jurisdictions passed resolutions supporting public sector workers and their right to organize strong unions. These cities are also exploring further policy and action to preserve and expand the freedom of working people to stick together in unions.
LP members supported Seattle councilmembers by circulating a sign on letter with over 50 signatures from local elected officials affirming their support for Seattle in an effort to tax big businesses to end homelessness and provide more affordable housing.
LP members in Chicago, Tacoma, and Seattle all sent supportive messages to the Austin City Council outlining how well paid sick time is working in their cities as they geared up for their own vote on paid sick days. Shortly thereafter, Austin became the first city in the South to pass paid sick leave.