January 8, 2010
It’s up to us, America’s unions, to lead the fight for solutions that will get us out of this crisis. The AFL-CIO has a five-point plan to create and save millions of jobs over the next year, starting as soon as Congress acts. It will take all of us in the NC labor movement and in unions around the country to win this fight for Good Jobs NOW. Every day we wait, the jobs crisis gets worse.
Tell Congress: America needs jobs now. It’s time to put America back to work. Click here to send a message to your Representative and U.S. Senators. A copy of your message will also be sent to President Obama.
How did we get in this mess? The short answer is we make it, they take it.
Workers make the goods and provide the services. We work longer hours, are more productive, and corporate America takes it all – our wages, our health care, our retirement security, and even our homes.
The Wall Street agenda has run our economy for more than 30 years, with deindustrialization, deregulation, free trade and shrinking government. It destroyed the relationship between productivity and wages. That led to giant economic and social imbalances. The richest got filthy rich; the rest of us got held down. The last time wealth in America was this concentrated at the top we had the Great Depression.
The Obama Administration inherited this crisis, but it’s their responsibility now. The government’s economic recovery act provided enough spending to save or create about a million jobs and pull us back from the brink of total collapse. But it’s not enough. The problem with the stimulus wasn’t how large it was; it’s that it didn’t go far enough.
That’s what the AFL-CIO five point plan is all about:
- Take care of families hard hit by the downturn. Unemployment insurance benefits, COBRA health insurance assistance and food aid keep money in people’s pockets. Congress must extend these programs for at least another year.
- Rebuild America with infrastructure improvements. We can put people to work now and strengthen the economy for the future by fixing crumbling schools, roads and bridges, developing 21st century energy and communications systems and investing in green jobs and green technology.
- Help state and local governments with their pressing needs. State and local governments and school districts are facing huge budget deficits. If Washington does not act fast, this will lead to mass layoffs of vital public-sector workers, including police, teachers and firefighters. This would mean more devastating cuts in key public services.
- Put people to work doing work that needs to be done. The private sector is not creating jobs, and America can’t wait. It’s time for the government to step in. Let’s create the jobs in our communities from cleaning up abandoned property to helping seniors get to the grocery store. These must be good, new jobs with good pay and benefits, not jobs to replace existing public-sector workers.
- Put TARP money to work for Main Street, not just Wall Street. When small businesses can get credit, they create jobs. The bank bailout was supposed to get credit flowing again, but small businesses are still waiting. We should hire local banks to lend leftover bailout money to small and medium-sized business for job creation.
Achieving the goals of our five point plan won’t be easy. It will be a big fight, but it’s a fight we must win. Here’s what we’ll have to do:
- Call Sen. Richard Burr and Sen. Kay Hagan and tell them to support the Jobs for Main Street Act (H.R. 2847), which invests $154 billion to create and save jobs. This bill invests in highway and mass transit projects; building and repairing schools and low-income housing; creating and saving jobs for teachers, police and firefighters; and providing funds for additional hiring and training programs. We’re talking about 250,000 education jobs, 5,000 police officers and training for 675,000 more people. The bill also extends recovery act initiatives to help small businesses create jobs, lifeline unemployment, health care and food aid for people who have lost their jobs and cuts taxes for 16 million families through the Child Tax Credit. And it’s totally paid for with leftover bank bailout funds.
- Get ready for a big fight. Get your local rapid response team and your volunteer mobilization crew ready. Get your phone banks and mail and e-mail lists ready.
- Plan to take the fight to the state level. Once Congress passes funding, we’ll have to work hard to make sure our state government makes the smart decisions on where and how to invest and acts fast to solve the jobs crisis.
Spread the word in the state and local press
Over the holidays, our officers were able to get three opinion pieces about the need for good jobs now published: in the Durham Herald-Sun, the Greensboro News & Record, and the Asheville Citizen-Times. Keep us posted if you or someone you know gets a letter published about the need for good jobs now.
Remember the union when it seems like it’s you against the world. The union reminds us that we are not alone, and we are not powerless when we work together. It’s up to us, union people, to do something and not stand by and watch as more people lose their jobs, their health care, their homes and their hope.