LaborTalk for December 13, 2011

E-Mails and Marches Won't Persuade Congress
To Create Jobs. What Do Our Leaders Propose?

By Harry Kelber

We keep sending a continuous flood of e-mails asking our lawmakers to extend unemployment insurance (UI) benefits through 2012, but Congress has not responded.

We keep on promoting and attending rallies to put pressure on Congress to create the public works jobs that millions of workers urgently need for survival. The AFL-CIO spent more than a month on its high-profile campaign, "America Wants to Work," without getting a word of encouragement from Washington legislators.

The AFL-CIO has received the same cool response to its "Day of Action" and other series of rallies. We've sent members of Congress thousands of heart-rending letters describing the suffering of working families where they have not seen a paycheck for a year.

What Do Our Leaders Propose as a Winning Strategy?

We've been spending numerous months appealing for sympathy for the unemployed. We've tried to educate our congressional representatives with facts and figures that show that massive job creation is the key to economic recovery and can restore the status of an eroding middle class.

But they are not listening to the AFL-CIO and its leaders. Why not? Because the labor federation is not taking any specific actions to command their attention. The people in Congress know, as well as we do, that e-mails and marches have been the AFL-CIO's primary legislative weapon that haven't produced any major victories.

Considering that millions of working people, both union and non-union, are in desperate economic straights, don't they deserve a high-powered campaign involving the entire labor movement? Yet it appears that the AFL -CIO leaders keep on giving their members "busy work," rather than solutions to an enormous problem.

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There is a mounting tide of anger against AFL-CIO leaders for failing to act energetically and imaginatively in behalf of the unemployed, but are mainly focusing on serving the concerns of their own members. Labor activists everywhere are wondering how long the AFL-CIO can continue to exist with an unchanging, inactive leadership.

We welcome your comments.

LaborTalk will be posted here on December 16, 2011 and on our two web sites www.laboreducator.org and on www.laborsvoiceforchange.org.

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