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AFL-CIO’s Trumka unveils five-point jobs plan

November 25th, 2009  |  Connie Eyer

>As part of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI)’s “Spotlight on the Jobs Crisis” panel, held last week in Washington, DC, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka noted that an official unemployment rate of 10.2 percent, which rises to 17.5 percent when including the underemployed, demands that a bold, quick action is needed to put people back to work. Coinciding with President Obama’s upcoming December summit on jobs creation, the AFL-CIO has unveiled a five-step jobs initiative.

While Trumka noted that the recovery package passed earlier this year was a critical and important step because it pulled the economy back from the brink of what he was convinced would have been a depression, he contended that two million jobs need to be created just to keep up with population growth.

“Of course, while we work on creating two million jobs right now, we can’t lose sight of the big picture,” Trumka said. “We know that we also need to keep working on deeper reform measures to ensure that we are rebuilding our economy on a solid foundation – we need the Employee Free Choice Act to guarantee workers the freedom to choose a union; we need financial reform to rein in the excesses of Wall Street; and we need to fix our flawed trade policies to make America competitive again and reduce our enormous trade deficits.”

Accordingly, the following five-point jobs plan calls for the following:

(1) Extension of unemployment benefits, food assistance and health care for the unemployed. These benefits are critical not only to the unemployed, but to maintain personal spending that will save and create jobs throughout the economy.

(2) Repair our broken infrastructure. Every dollar spent on infrastructure employs workers all down the supply chain in construction, manufacturing, design and engineering – and we need to be sure these dollars create U.S. jobs and develop badly needed U.S. industrial capacity. And we need to invest in good green jobs – green technology, energy-efficient retrofits of public buildings and the smart power grid.

(3) Boost aid to state and local governments to maintain vital services and prevent more layoffs. Without additional funding, our public safety, our health needs and our children’s educations will suffer.

(4) Create jobs that put people to work in our communities meeting pressing needs. These are not replacements for existing public jobs. They must pay competitive wages and should target distressed communities.

(5) Put TARP funds to work for Main Street. If small businesses can get credit, they will create jobs.

“Doing nothing is not an option,” Trumka emphasized. “If we don’t act, everything will be worse — including our federal budget deficit. We will be out there every day, working with the other groups here today, with business leaders and elected officials at every level, mobilizing and helping the White House and Congress get this done.”