Published on People’s World, by John Wojcik, November 17, 2009.
WASHINGTON – The nation’s top labor, civil rights and community leaders joined forces here today and put forward a bold program they say is needed to create millions of new jobs and to lift the economy from the depths of the recession.
At a gathering sponsored by the labor-backed Economic Policy Institute they made it clear that all of the organizations they represent agree on a 5-point agenda that must be enacted if the economy is to begin working for the broad majority of Americans. The program they are demanding includes extension of the unemployment benefits lifeline for millions; the commitment of hundreds of millions in federal dollars to rebuild America’s schools, roads and infrastructure, including “green” jobs in alternative energy and energy conservation fields; massive aid to state and local governments to maintain vital services; the direct creation of federally funded jobs in the “hardest hit communities,” both in minority and other communities that have been devastated; and the use of remaining TARP (bank bailout) funds to get credit flowing to small and medium businesses that would be a direct help to Main Street, rather than Wall Street …
… Representatives of the media gathered for the event asked the leaders how they expected to muster the political support for bold job creation measures, given concern about the size of the federal deficit.
“The labor movement has been knocking on millions of doors all over this country,” said Trumka, “and we’ve never been asked about the deficit. People ask about their jobs, health care or whether they’ll be able to send their kids to school. There is a very broad understanding out there that the only real way to fix the deficit problem is first to get everyone working.”
“Elections have a way of bringing things into focus,” said Henderson. “When it comes to the 2010 elections be assured that the coalition you see being formed here will have great success in holding all those people in Congress accountable on the issue of what they did or did not do when it comes to job creation. A pile of excuses or an attack on the president is not going to do it.”
The press conference was also streamed live on the web and reported on the social media site, Twitter. (full text).