LaborTalk for June 24, 2011

Can We Create Ten Million New Jobs
Or Tolerate an Army of Unemployed?

By Harry Kelber

Let's take an inventory of what we've done and where we stand in our top priority campaign for jobs for our unemployed.

We've tackled the jobs issue with a record number of conferences, workshops, strategy sessions, rallies marches, picket lines, sit-ins and vigils, We've distributed tons of leaflets and pamphlets, used radio and TV programs, created videos and messages on Internet web sites, all designed to educate union members and involve them in the fight for jobs.

And let's not forget the endless speeches and statements by labor leaders about "Making Wall Street Pay", for the jobs they destroyed; the many convention resolutions and the blizzard of e-mails we sent to our representatives in Congress and the White House urging them to initiate a massive works program that could provide millions of useful jobs, like what the New Deal did in the 1930's.

We called together some of the nation's brightest and most experienced economists to devise a job-creating plan that could employ millions, while improving the quality of life for all Americans.

Congress and the White House Were Not Interested

The one bright spot on the job front came in February 2009, when Congress passed the $787 billion "stimulus package" and President Obama could claim that 2 million jobs had been created or saved.

"We've got to do better," Obama said, but he hasn't. He's focusing on cutting the federal budget deficit, where every spending cut means an actual loss of jobs.

We have hardly made a dent in the jobs crisis, as the following figures will show, in human terms, not in percentages:

There are 25 million people who are looking for a full-time job, but can't find one. Of these, 13.9 million are listed as officially unemployed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Jobs will have to be found for the 100,000 to 125,000 people who enter the labor force each month. Mass layoffs are continuing. There were 19,564 mass layoffs by employers involving 1,854,596 workers in 2010.

What has our economy, the richest in the world, done to provide those millions of jobs that are desperately needed by people, some 6.8 million who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more?

* * * *

Are we reconciled to having a permanent army of unemployed in our midst, while the bankers and investors of Wall Street cling to at least two trillion dollars in cash, and can give themselves compensation packages worth tens of millions?

Isn't this an immoral, but true, image of our society? And shouldn't we be doing something about it?

LaborTalk will be posted here on June 28, 2011 and on our two web sites and on

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