LaborTalk for June 3, 2011

AFL-CIO Abandons Its Campaign for Jobs;
Wall Street Won't Pay for Economic Crisis

By Harry Kelber

The rousing chant, "Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!," will no longer be heard at AFL-CIO's rallies, marches and mass picketing activities, because the Labor Federation has quietly given up its long-time campaign for the creation of massive public works projects to provide employment for millions of jobless Americans.

In the last three months, there has been hardly any mention of the plight of the unemployed, either on the AFL-CIO web site or in public statements by labor leaders. Nor are there any plans to make jobs a top priority issue in the 2012 elections, and to judge all candidates on their views about creating jobs.

Congress and the Obama administration are on a deficit-cutting binge and neither has any interest in spending countless billions that would be required to finance the various job-creation projects proposed by organized labor and its allies.

Even if the economy improves and employers cautiously expand their workforce, the new hires will account for a fraction of the jobs that are needed to re-employ the 13.9 million people who are officially listed as unemployed, and the additional five or six million part-timers, who are looking for full-time employment to eke out a livelihood.

Wall Street Must Pay for Jobs for its Victims

It is ironic that the major banks and investment houses, that have generated huge cash reserves, have not been compelled to pay compensation to the millions of people who lost their jobs in the Wall Street-induced economic recession.

AFL-CIO President Trumka summarized the obligations of Wall Street in rhetorical blasts at the big banks by declaring:

"Our message is simple: Big banks tanked our economy and took our money when they needed a bailout. Now they're thumbing their noses at our communities but making billions in profits. It's time they pay up. Pay up by investing in communities to create jobs for the millions of unemployed workers."

Trumka was on target with his criticism, but he never confronted the banks' CEOs, face-to-face to demand they pay reparations to their victims, enough to provide them with public works jobs.

* * * * *

On moral grounds, we can't allow the top banks and investment houses to go scot-free from any financial obligation, while millions of people suffer for lack of paid employment.

The banks are vulnerable. There are many ways to bring them to the bargaining table, in addition to transferring our financial accounts elsewhere. We have considerable leverage to force them to negotiate and agree to a substantial settlement that can be invested in job-creation.

Let's revive our campaign to make Wall Street pay! Let's show our unemployed that we haven't given up our fight in their behalf.

LaborTalk will be posted here on June 7, 2011 and on our two web sites and on

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