FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Surge in Demands on Goverment for Jobs

Thanks to the government bailout, bankers and brokers are now self-righteously pocketing their record bonuses, reassured by Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein that they are doing “God’s work” (The New York Times, November 17, 2009). There is no humility in these quarters. Yet working people continue to be battered by relentlessly rising unemployment, caused by an economic crisis they had no part in creating. Officially the rate stands at 10.2 percent with the unofficial rate hovering around 17.5 percent, since it also includes part-time workers wanting full-time work and those who are discouraged and no longer looking for work. Both statistics are on the verge of rising.

Blacks and Latinos are, as usual, bearing the brunt of the job crisis with the official unemployment rates of 15.7 percent and 13.1 percent respectively. Worse yet, these grim statistics are accompanied by the highest foreclosure rates, not only because job loss is frequently followed by home loss but because banks actually targeted blacks and Latinos for subprime loans, even though many of them qualified for regular loans. Thus, they were required to pay much higher interest rates simply because of their race or ethnicity. A recent report from the William C. Velasquez Institute noted: “…across the country, blacks and Latinos were anywhere from two to nine times as likely as whites to have those kinds [higher cost mortgage] of loans. (The New York Times, November 17, 2009).

Meanwhile millions of workers who are receiving unemployment insurance are about to see their benefits terminate. Federal extensions of unemployment insurance are scheduled to end for many workers on December 31, and workers who lost their jobs after July 1 are not currently eligible to receive any extensions whatsoever. (The New York Times, November 18, 2009).

Although Wall Street brought the economy to its knees through recklessness and greed, the government has responded with generosity beyond belief, rewarding it with a staggering total of $12.8 trillion in the form of taxpayer loans, grants and guarantees, according to Bloomberg News. (See David Sirota, San Francisco Chronicle, April 9, 2009). And one must keep in mind that these people were already absurdly rich. For them, it is not a question of trying to hold on to the little they have.

But when it comes to working people, who lack the luxury of having multiple mansions to cushion any downturn, suddenly the government cannot afford to help, except by offering lip service and a few crumbs. This month, the Obama administration announced that its $789 billion stimulus created or saved as many as 640,000 jobs but immediately found itself on the defensive as the government watchdog countered that this number could not be substantiated while others argued it was surely inflated. Given that job losses have amounted to hundreds of thousands each month with a total of 7.3 million losses thus far, even if the administration’s number were accurate, it amounts to the offer of a mere bandaid to a patient who is hemorrhaging to death.

When he was on the campaign trail, Obama trumpeted job-creation programs across the country. Now he is backtracking rapidly. In an interview with Fox News, Obama spoke only vaguely about such programs and qualified even these timid remarks by cautioning that “it is important though to recognize that if we keep on adding to the debt, even in the midst of this recovery, that at some point, people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy in a way that could actually lead to a double-dip recession.”

With little help in sight from the administration, the NAACP has joined with the AFL-CIO and the National Council of La Raza to call on Obama “for increased spending for schools and roads, billions of dollars in fiscal relief to state and local governments to forestall more layoffs and a direct government jobs program.” (The New York Times, November 16, 2009).

This call is contributing to a growing chorus demanding relief from the agonizing plight of unemployment. Recently, for example, the National Assembly, a nationwide antiwar coalition, adjusted its orientation and placed jobs as its number one demand, ranking it above ending the wars.

In September, Michael Moore premiered his new movie, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” at the AFL-CIO national convention, resulting in a rousing reception. Moore urged the AFL-CIO to call a national protest day in Washington, D.C. to fight for jobs and health care.

Last week, Minnesota’s AFL-CIO President called on Minnesota’s Congressional delegation and the state legislature to create “an aggressive new jobs program.” Wisconsin’s State Federation of Labor adopted a similar position.

The Troy Labor Council in New York has called on the AFL-CIO to organize a demonstration in Washington, D.C. to demand job-creation programs and peace, among other things.

The AFT (American Federation of Teachers) Local 1021, covering 10,000 members and part of UTLA (United Teachers of Los Angeles), passed a resolution on November 12 calling on the labor movement to organize a Solidarity Day III demonstration to demand jobs.

A resolution has been submitted to the U.S. Labor Against War’s upcoming National Assembly, which will be held in early December, also calling for the labor movement to organize a Solidarity Day III demonstration to demand jobs and an end to U.S. wars, among other things.

Finally, the Workers Emergency Recovery Campaign (WERC), an emerging grassroots, national organization, worked with members of the San Francisco Labor Council and others who introduced a similar resolution to the Council which was passed on November 23. The WERC has a more concise version of the resolution that can be used as a model for anyone wishing to introduce a similar resolution in his or her union local.

The banks have been lobbying intensely for their own interests, and their efforts have been met with stunning success. We working people need to mount a campaign to pressure the government to respond our needs. After all, we are the vast majority of the population, and the government should respond to the needs of the majority instead of ignoring us in favor of a fabulously rich minority. By mounting a massive united struggle, we can succeed!

Ann Robertson is a Lecturer at San Francisco State University and a member the California Faculty Association.

Bill Leumer is a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 853 (ret.). Both are writers for Workers Action and may be reached at sanfrancisco@workerscompass.org.

 

More articles by:
September 25, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Fact-Finding Labour’s “Anti-Semitism” Crisis
Charles Pierson
Destroying Yemen as Humanely as Possible
James Rothenberg
Why Not Socialism?
Patrick Cockburn
How Putin Came Out on Top in Syria
John Grant
“Awesome Uncontrollable Male Passion” Meets Its Match
Guy Horton
Burma: Complicity With Evil?
Steve Stallone
Jujitsu Comms
William Blum
Bombing Libya: the Origins of Europe’s Immigration Crisis
John Feffer
There’s a New Crash Coming
Martha Pskowski
“The Emergency Isn’t Over”: the Homeless Commemorate a Year Since the Mexico City Earthquake
Fred Baumgarten
Ten Ways of Looking at Civility
Dean Baker
The Great Financial Crisis: Bernanke and the Bubble
Binoy Kampmark
Parasitic and Irrelevant: The University Vice Chancellor
September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will There Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail