AFL-CIO, allies protest in Cornelius, NC
Before North Carolina voters get the chance to hold politicians accountable in the next election, concerned citizens in the Southern Piedmont had an opportunity to take Thom Tillis to task for his disastrous speakership of the State House at a legislative town hall this week.
Advocates for workers and others showed up with signs that read, "Workers are Watching," and "Hey Thom, your politics won't feed my family," to bear witness to Thom Tillis’ divisive, ideologically driven legislative agenda. Retired autoworker, Alan Penley, member of UAW 5285, was one of the town hall attendees who got to question Tillis about jobs.
Since coming into power in January, Tillis' agenda has exacted sacrifice upon sacrifice from working families while rewarding his staff with 27 percent pay increases and his corporate campaign contributors with new tax loopholes and exemptions from environmental protections. In fact, Thom Tillis recently took home top honors at a meeting of the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council for his efforts to pass laws written by corporate lobbyists.
"We want speaker Tillis to know that working folks in North Carolina are watching his leadership," Marybe McMillan told a reporter with WSOC TV Channel 9. "And we don't like the direction he's taking our state."
Earlier this year, over 37,000 jobless workers went months without unemployment benefits because Thom Tillis hijacked federal funds for political gamesmanship with the Governor. While North Carolina’s economy struggles with almost ten percent unemployment, thousands more state and local workers, many of them teachers, are joining the unemployment line thanks to Thom Tillis’ austerity budget. But Tillis has yet to find time on his legislative calendar even to consider a jobs bill, opting instead to fight partisan battles over women’s health care and Voter ID.
Tillis' prescription is poison for Charlotte-area economy
At the town hall, Tillis defended his state budget and downplayed the predictions of job losses. "Right-sizing" government, as Tillis and his defenders call their actions, will only downsize the whole economy. All together, the spending cuts and tax cuts will net the Greater Charlotte area 8,000 lost jobs and $387 million in lost wages and income. That's because the economy there will lose $1.30 for every $1 it saves in taxes.
If you think these job losses are all public sector jobs, you'd be wrong. Over half - 55% - of the region's job losses will come from the private sector - from doctors offices, real estate, and service-sector companies that will shrink as the employment base shrinks.
Remember that workers - whether they work for private business or for the public - are consumers. Businesses need consumers for their products and services in order to create jobs. Right now we need to stimulate demand, not cuts.
So the next time you hear people like NC GOP chairman, Robin Hayes, take joy in rising unemployment figures because public employees are losing their jobs, you might think twice about whose side they're on and whether they really understand how to fix our jobs crisis.