George Wiley, former executive director of the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO), will speak tonight on the prospects of building a broader-based organization linking poor and working-class people to develop a common economic agenda.
"In the welfare rights movement we have been working as a minority group hoping that the majority acts favorably towards us," Wiley said yesterday.
"If we can get the 50 million people who subsist below the $6500 adequate income level to work with 70 million people in the $5000 to $15,000 income range, we have a hypothetical majority of the population," he added.
Wiley said that his new organization, the Movement for Economic Justice, will serve as a nationwide grassroots movement organizing the 120 million people "who have a direct economic stake in more adequate income, tax reform, and adequate health care."
The former head of the NWRO added that he hoped to include those middle-and upper-middle-class citizens who are sympathetic to his goals in his new organization.
Wiley said that initially his organization would function on two levels. First, he said that grassroots organizers were already working in some areas to organize tax clinics for low-and middle-income tax-payers in 20 cities. Second, Wiley said that he hoped to start a Citizens Lobby for Economic Justice in 40 key congressional districts to make Congress more responsive to poor and middle-income people's issues.
He added that his organization had already begun organizing community groups and poverty program agencies to fight the proposed Nixon budget cuts.
Wiley said that he expected the Citizens Lobby for Economic Justice to take an active role in the 1974 and 1976 elections.
Wiley is at Harvard for a month as a fellow of the Kennedy Institute of Politics. He said that he hoped to "gather basic facts on his constituencies and research the history of the welfare rights organization." He will speak at 8 p.m. tonight in Burr B.