This is a coalition initiated by the AFL-CIO and some other organizations intended to make it look like organized labor is doing something even though it is doing nothing. There is a huge gap between words and deeds.
I would encourage everyone to check out their website:
The weaknesses are readily apparent.
Their five point program hits five important points but leaves out some very necessary points beginning with the fact that we will never see such a five point program implemented in the United States as long as Obama and the Democrats are fighting Wall Street's wars. Therefore, the first point in this program should be:
1. Jobs, not wars.
2. Also missing from this is the need to include real health care reform because working people need health care as much as we need jobs; plus, if we were to have real health care reform providing everyone with access to health care on a universal basis such a national public health care program would provide millions of jobs... building public health care centers, then staffing and maintaining them.
3. Most important of all as to what is missing from this five point program is the need for full enforcement of affirmative action because the working class will get out of this economic mess created by Wall Street's military-financial-industrial complex in its drive for maximum capitalist profits either united nor not at all. It will be virtually impossible to have the kind of maximum unity required for a strong working class fight-back if people of color and women think they are going to do a lot of the struggling but be left out of jobs in the end. Their reason for thinking they might be left out of jobs they fight for is based upon hard facts. One need only look at the general unemployment levels in this country to see that last hired first fired and laid off has been the rule rather than the exception for people of color and women. Unemployment on many Indian Reservations has not even bottomed out yet and it is around 65% with over 80% of the people suffering the miserable affects of poverty resulting directly from racism. How else does one explain unemployment levels five to seven times the "average?"
4. Also missing from this program is the need for a moratorium on home foreclosures and evictions.
By any fair measure, we need to have these four points added to this five point program the AFL-CIO and its coalition partners are bringing forward.
To date, this coalition has done little more than hold a couple press conferences.
The AFL-CIO and its coalition partners have been more interested in protecting Barack Obama's worthless political ass than in struggling for programs aimed at solving the problems of working people as witnessed by their betrayal of the working class to the interests of the bankers and just recently to the private, for profit health insurance/health care industries.
Working people and progressives should establish local "Jobs For America Now" committees all over the United States putting forward this revised nine point program in turning what the AFL-CIO and its coalition partners intended to be nothing but the typical hot air from a bunch of loud-mouth labor leaders who are so far removed from the problems of everyday living most working people are experiencing that they "forgot" to include these four additional points.
To win this must become part of a campaign where Barack Obama and the Democrats are told to deliver on this nine point agenda or they aren't going to be getting our support or our votes come Election Day 2010.
We need to develop a real campaign that brings people together to struggle for jobs and social and economic justice.
We are going to need much more in the way of "tools" if we are going to wage a real campaign around this expanded program.
In the days ahead, you will find on this blog many suggestions for what you can do.
Press conferences are good; but, by no means should "struggle" by press conference replace the kind of real grassroots and rank-and-file initiative it is going to take to win. Therefore, you will be finding some suggestions at this blog for:
A. Sample "letters to the editor"
B. A petition
D. Resolutions to take to political parties and union locals supporting this nine point program.
E. "How to" information about selecting, for an organized campaign:
i. a neighborhood
ii. a school
iii. a church
iv. a mine, mill, factory or other place of work
F. Press releases and organizing press conferences as much of this coalition's work seems to be focused on press conference after press conference getting not much coverage on television, radio or newspapers--- we need to do better.
G. Using tools for the Internet- websites, blogging, etc.
H. Running candidates for state and national office
I. How to organize a vigil.
J. How to organize an educational picket line.
K. How to organize great big demonstrations.
Below are the organizations that are part of this coalition.
Set up a local committee of grassroots/rank-and-file activists and add your name as a member of this coalition.
These organizations aren't going to do anything beyond holding press conferences and approving of everything Barack Obama and the Democrats do no matter how detrimental the consequences to working people unless we push them to go beyond their failed strategy and tactics:
A list of national organizations participating in this coalition are listed below. To get in contact, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participating national organizations
African American Ministers In Action
American Rights at Work
Americans for Democratic Action, Inc.
Americans United for Change
Blue Green Alliance
Campaign for America’s Future
Center for Community Change
Center for Law and Social Policy
Change to Win
Coalition on Human Needs
Community Action Partnership
Direct Care Alliance
Economic Justice Coalition
Economic Policy Institute
Every Child Matters Education Fund
Food Research and Action Center
Half in Ten Campaign
Inequality and the Common Good Program of the Institute for Policy Studies
Insight Center for Community Economic Development
Japanese American Citizens League
Jobs with Justice
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Association for State Community Services Programs
National Association of Social Workers
National Community Reinvestment Coalition
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of La Raza
National Council on Aging
National Employment Law Project
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
National Partnership for Women and Families
National Priorities Project
National Women’s Law Center
NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Project Community, Inc.
Student Association for Voter Empowerment
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United for a Fair Economy
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
United Neighborhood Centers of America
United States Student Association
Wider Opportunities for Women
WiLL-Women Legislators’ Lobby
Women’s Action for New Directions
The Workforce Alliance
Add the name of your local organization to this list; don't worry about getting permission to do this; just add your organization's name--- such a coalition should include everyone and exclude no one if we want to see real change.
Here are the original five points obviously severely lacking, but giving us a good start when we add the additional four points:
A first step is to provide relief through continued and expanded unemployment benefits, COBRA, and supplemental nutrition assistance. Safety net spending not only sustains needy families, it also helps the economy by circulating cash into local communities, helping businesses avert further job cuts.
Second, extending substantial fiscal relief to state and local governments will not only preserve needed services, but will also provide millions of jobs in both the public and private sectors (as many private firms deliver public services from health to infrastructure).
Third, we can directly create jobs that put people to work helping communities meet pressing needs, including in distressed communities facing severe unemployment. These initiatives must be designed so they maintain existing wage and benefit standards and do not displace existing jobs or simply exchange one group of unemployed workers for another.
Fourth, there are opportunities to invest in infrastructure improvements in schools, transportation, and energy efficiency that can provide jobs in the short run and productivity enhancements in the longer run.
Last, we should explore spurring private-sector job growth through innovative incentives and providing credit to small and medium-sized businesses.
This initial five point program is very weak on using the public sector to create jobs. And there is no mention of "what tax-payers finance, tax-payers should own."
Many of the problems, including lack of enforcement of affirmative action can be seen in looking at the problems surrounding the Bemidji Regional Event Center Project, which, besides giving us some ideas as to what we are up against, provides us with many solutions. In the course of initiating this project, Native American Indians were intentionally excluded at every level... including being excluded from employment. We see public funds to the tune of over 100 million dollars being invested, only to turn the completed center over to a private firm to manage and profit from even though they didn't spend one single penny incurring any costs... and this is the way almost all of these "stimulus funds" and public monies are being spent.
I would note that the Minnesota AFL-CIO and Change To Win along with the Campaign for America's Future and the NAACP have sat in silence without lifting a finger or their voices--- not even a press conference--- to object... in fact, many of these organizations have participated in, or turned their heads in indifference to the racist injustices surrounding the Bemidji Regional Event Center with the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party being a major party to the racist injustices.
Quite frankly, all of these organizations have sat in silence as some two-million casino workers are employed in the smoke-filled casinos of the Indian Gaming Industry while workers paid poverty wages work without any rights under state or federal labor laws so there is very good reason to believe that these organizations are more interested in electing Democrats than in solving the problems of working people... and, let us be very clear in understanding that electing Democrats and solving the problems of working people are two very different things... unless their is real grassroots and rank-and-file initiative in standing up and fighting to implement this nine point program we will continue to see an increase in unemployment and poverty.
Make no mistake, poverty wage jobs are no solution to ending poverty.
Which makes me wonder, what has happened to the AFL-CIO's slogan while George Bush was president: "America needs a raise?"
I guess we had better make this a ten point program by including the demand for a real, living--- non-poverty--- minimum wage that is legislatively tied to real cost of living factors as determined by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. It doesn't make much sense to be paying these analysts and statisticians over $100,000.00 a year salaries and then not use these figures to calculate the raise American workers need.
Here we have it, a nice ten point program for real reform that will go a long ways towards re-distributing this Nation's wealth in the creation of jobs.
Jobs, not wars.
Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council