LaborTalk for June 9, 2012

How the Unemployed Can Join with Unions
To Press Congress for Jobs — and Win Them!

By Harry Kelber

The unions are faced with a perplexing dilemma: Why are hardly any of the millions of unemployed speaking up and demanding that Congress create jobs for them? Why is the campaign for jobs being led almost exclusively by unions and progressives whose members are currently employed?

The silence of jobless workers may be that most of them have lost hope and don't see anyone coming to help them. But supposing the AFL-CIO made a serious effort to find and organize the unemployed in a massive jobs campaign?

What if every union was given a simple task: to get the names, addresses phone numbers (and e-mail addresses) of any unemployed person, who is a relative, friend, neighbor or former co-worker in the area where they live? All jobless workers would be given a card and a leaflet, welcoming them to a campaign to press Congress and the White House for a massive jobs program.

There could be TV and radio announcements directed at the unemployed. Communities would be asked to provide information that would be helpful in the campaign. Posters could be plastered on storefronts, and retiree organizations could be called on to help.

The objective could be the establishment of jobless action committees (JAC) in each locality throughout the U.S. that would put pressure on Congress and the White House to create the millions of jobs that are urgently needed. Those jobs could help make America a richer and more agreeable country to live in.

Our unions would be encouraging the jobless to engage in a spirited fight in their own interest. True, it would take a lot of intensive organizing. But is there anything around that offers better possibilities for achieving the goals of a jobs program?

LaborTalk will be posted here on June 14, 2012 and on our two web sites: and on

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