LaborTalk for October 14, 2011

Congress Flatly Rejects Obama's Jobs bill;
Millions of Unemployed Are Abandoned
AFL-CIO Fails to Stop Passage of Three Free Trade Agreements

By Harry Kelber

In a major setback to the hopes of millions of unemployed Americans, the U.S. Senate effectively killed President Obama's' $447 billion jobs bill, designed to provide between 1.5 and 2 million jobs. While there was a slim majority (50-49) in favor of the bill, it was not enough to gain the 60 votes needed to prevent a Republican filibuster.

The vote on Tuesday night (Oct. 11) came while the AFL-CIO was conducting a "Week of Action" to its national "America Wants to Work" campaign There was no extended comment about the stinging defeat of the jobs bill on the AFL-CIO Web site, nor did labor leaders have a plan B to help the unemployed in what had been called an "emergency" for months.

House Republicans said they do not intend to take up the president's bill as a whole, but they welcomed the signal from the White House that the administration would be open to a piecemeal effort.

Votes on pieces of the bill could begin this month. Party leaders said they needed to consult their caucus before the timing or choose the provisions that could be considered separately.

What's on the mind of both Democrats and Republicans is how to prepare a winning campaign in the 2012 elections, while the unemployed will be mentioned primarily for their rhetorical appeal.

The Unanswered Problem: Find Decent Jobs for 25 Million

There are currently some 25 million people who want a full-time job and 6.2 million among them who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more. There is hardly a chance that, under the best of circumstances, they will get jobs through a government assistance program before mid-2013 at the very earliest.

What are they to do in the meantime? How are they to survive? Do the politicians in Washington and the financiers on Wall Street care?

It is no wonder that people who have lost their jobs, their homes and their middle class lifestyle are beginning to speak up for changes in our society that will make it humane and fair, particularly to the poor, the sick and the elderly.

We join with other fair-minded citizens in giving our support to "Occupy Wall Street."

* * * * *

Despite the opposition of the AFL-CIO and its persuasive evidence that the United States would lose jobs and resources, Congress with the backing of President Obama, approved Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, South Korea and Panama.

The agreement with Colombia was particularly galling, because of the murder of 15 unionists since April, after President Obama and Colombian President Santos had worked out a plan to stop the murders.

LaborTalk will be posted here on October 7, 2011 and on our two web sites www.laboreducator.org and on www.laborsvoiceforchange.org.

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