Good Jobs First (1998-2023): 25 Milestones

Our work, starting with getting better disclosure in states across the country, has chronicled how excessive tax breaks undermine public education, shortchange small business, and undermine the public assets that truly drive equitable development.

1998: Good Jobs First Launch!
Greg LeRoy, closer to when he started Good Jobs First in 1998. White man in blue shirt sitting and using his hands to communicate a point.

Good Jobs First launches on July 13, 1998

1999: Good Jobs New York Launch
Good Jobs First staff celebrate article written about former Good Jobs New York Director Bettina Damiani.

Good Jobs First launches Good Jobs New York, which during its 16-year run got New York to pass the best local disclosure laws in the United States.

2000: Labor Education on Anti-Union Sprawl (Illinois)

For 110 leaders of the Chicago Federation of Labor, Good Jobs First creates the first labor education curriculum on how sprawl is anti-union. The following year, the national AFL-CIO passes a convention resolution denouncing sprawl, with arguments drawn from the Chicago curriculum.

2000: First U.S. Job Sprawl Report (Minnesota)
Image of sprawl in the Twin Cities, Minnesota

Using landmark Minnesota data, Good Jobs First publishes the first U.S. study showing how economic development subsidies fuel suburban “job sprawl,” moving jobs away from communities of color and transit-rich neighborhoods

2001: Jail Breaks: Study on For-Profit Prison Subsidies
"Jail Breaks" Economic Development Subsidies Given to Private Prisons" is the headline. The image is of a private prison and government, with a "contracts" pipe connecting them and a large bag of subsidies piped underneath.

Good Jobs First publishes the first study on subsidies given to private, for-profit prisons – showing that three-fourths of such facilities have been subsidized. Findings are immediately put to use by anti-privateers fighting new private prison construction.

2003: 50-State Analysis on Subsidy Harms to School Finance
An image of smoke stacks sending up plumes of money next to a school. This depicts how schools are harmed by corporate tax breaks.

Good Jobs First publishes the first-ever 50-state analysis of how subsidies harm school finance.

2003: Pushing for the Best Disclosure Law in the US (Illinois)
"A Better Deal for Illinois: Improving Economic Development Policy." There is an illustration of a state, Illinois, that says "state subsidies" and a picture of a Boeing plane on top.

Good Jobs First publishes “A Better Deal for Illinois,” prompting the state to enact the best disclosure law and online disclosure website in the U.S.

2004: Wal-Mart: Shopping for Subsidies
A drawing of a man with a round head shopping in a Walmart-style store and picking up things like "tax credits," "free land," infrastructure grants," "property tax abatements" and other goodies WalMart gets from taxpayers

Good Jobs First publishes "Shopping for Subsidies How Wal-Mart Uses Taxpayer Money to Finance Its Never-Ending Growth" fueling site fights nationwide; Walmart begins reducing its subsidy demands in urban areas

2005: The Great American Jobs Scam: Corporate Tax Dodging and the Myth of Job Creation
Cover of "The Great American Jobs Scam" book by Greg LeRoy

Greg’s second book, The Great American Jobs Scam: Corporate Tax Dodging and the Myth of Job Creation, is published by Berrett-Koehler and widely reviewed by Business Week, New York Review of Books, Publishers Weekly, C-Span’s Book TV and many other publications.

2007-22: 6 Report Card Studies on State Subsidies
A map of the United States with images of people holding report cards. Many are dismayed by the poor grades they received

Good Jobs First issues six “report card” studies grading states on how well, or poorly, they disclose company-specific subsidies. Governors and commerce secretaries in at least 35 states publicly respond, and some ask us for help “to get a better grade next time”

2008-09: Retail Tax Skim Exposé Leads to Reforms in Colorado and Virginia
A drawing of a man is taking cash from a cash register that says "sales tax"

Good Jobs First publishes the first national exposé revealing that retailers in 25 states are legally “skimming” more than $1 billion annually in consumer-paid sales taxes. Colorado and Virginia soon enact reforms.

2010: Subsidy Tracker Launch
A private eye from the 1950s is typing into an IBM looking computer.

Good Jobs First launched Subsidy Tracker, the most comprensive public database of which companies receive economic development subsidies.

2012: Paying Taxes to the Boss: Companies Pocketing Employee Income Taxes
Image of an Acme employee angrily looking at their paycheck with shows that instead of paycheck withholdings going to the state treasury, they are being returned to the company

Good Jobs First publishes Paying Taxes to the Boss, the first exposé on how some states allow companies to pocket their employees’ state personal income taxes – without the workers’ knowledge or consent.

2013-17: First Report Card Studies on Big County Subsidy Transparency (Memphis, New York, Chicago, Austin)
Cover of a filing cabinet surrounded by locks. The drawers say "subsidy deals," "jobs created," "cost per job" and "developer docs"

GJF issues the first-ever “report card” studies on big-city and big-county subsidy transparency. The cities that score best are those where grassroots groups, often assisted by Good Jobs First, have agitated: Memphis, New York, Chicago and Austin.

2014: Fighting Corrupt Property Tax with Together Louisiana
Louisiana Tax Break Brawl is the headline. There are Black educators, one of them is talking into the microphone. The second headline is "Teacher Strike Threat Backs Off ExxonMobil" and the NY TImes article says "A School Board Says No to Big Oil, and Alarms Sound in Business-Friendly Louisiana"

Good Jobs First begins assisting Together Louisiana against the nation’s most corrupt property tax abatement program. By 2022, TLA’s campaign was saving almost $300 million annually for schools, public health, public safety and infrastructure.

2015: Violation Tracker Database on Corporate Crime and Misconduct
Wells Fargo logo, gold text on a red background, in the middle of an area with skyscrapers.

Good Jobs First launches Violation Tracker, the first wide-ranging database on corporate crime and misconduct. It becomes a global juggernaut.

2015: Good Jobs First Testifies After Boeing Layoffs (Washington)
Boeing jet on a rain-soaked landing strip.

Stung by big layoffs by Boeing in Puget Sound despite two multi-billion-dollar megadeals, the State of Washington calls Good Jobs First to testify. We prove that in four other states, the company was bound to statewide employment levels. The State enacts robust disclosure on job creation for all new incentive programs going forward.

2015: National Comment Campaign for Government Accounting Rule
Columbia Journalism Review headline says "How an arcane, new accounting standard is helping reporters follow the money."

Good Jobs First mounts a successful national comment campaign to win the first-ever government accounting rule requiring most local governments to disclose how much revenue they lose to economic development tax breaks – “GASB Statement No. 77”

2016: Philadelphia Leaders Rein In Property Tax Abatements
Al Día newspaper headline: Philly City Council passes changes to tax abatement, new construction tax to address poverty

Good Jobs First assists elected leaders in Philadelphia, helping rein in lavish property tax abatements that had been given to nearly all residential construction and rehab.

2016: Exposing Amazon Subsidy-Seeking
Jeff Bezos is wearing a space suit and money is flying from the sky and he is standing on piles of money. Graphic illustration.

Good Jobs First exposes Amazon’s strategy of aggressive subsidy-seeking for its warehouses when its Prime business model flips to rapid delivery. By 2023, we document more than $6.1 billion in subsidies to the retail giant.

2018: Grand Theft Paycheck: Report on Wage Theft in Large Corporations
Wage theft crime scene yellow police tape is over paychecks with company names "Walmart," "FedEx," "Bank of America," "Wells Fargo" and "StateFarm."

Good Jobs First releases Grand Theft Paycheck, exposes how widespread wage theft occurs among large corporations.

2019: Big Business Bias Report
Image of people holding a sign that says #MeToo McDonalds and "Fight for $15"

Good Jobs First's Big Business Bias report reveals how virtually every large company had paid damages or reached an out-of-court settlement in a discrimination or harassment lawsuit.

2020: COVID Stimulus Watch: CARES Act Spending

Good Jobs First launches Covid Stimulus Watch to track CARES Act spending. We break the story of how charter schools received far more support than public schools, and enabled journalists to show how health care chains that had repeatedly defrauded Medicare or Medicaid got huge funding.

2021: Violation Tracker U.K. Launched

Good Jobs First launches Violation Tracker UK, modeled after the U.S. version.

2021-22: Kansas City Public Schools Local Disclosure Victory
Then Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell in front of headlines which he "blasts incentive deal for construction company as 'systematically racist.' "
Good Jobs First assists Kansas City Public Schools after new local-disclosure data won by GJF reveals sharp racial disparities among regional school districts. KCPS superintendent calls abatements “systemic racism” and school board presses city to curb them
Teachers, school district officials and state lawmakers take a stand against IDA school tax exemptions

Our study proving that school districts across New York State lose $1.8 billion per year prompts legislation to take the school share of property taxes off the table in all future abatement deals.