Labor Day 2011: Labor kicks-off campaign for jobs, fair economy
From the Minneapolis Labor Review, August 26, 2011
By Bill McCarthy, President, Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation
For Labor Day 2011, most of us get a welcome day off from work to enjoy time with our families. But let’s not forget: Far too many Americans and Minnesotans remain jobless this Labor Day. The latest data from the Bureau of Labor statistics report a national unemployment rate of 9.1 percent and a state unemployment rate of 6.7 percent. We need to raise our voices loud and strong to call for government action in St. Paul and in Washington: make creating jobs priority number one!
Sadly, the partisan divide in both St. Paul and Washington is paralyzing our government and skewing the debate about how to move the economy out of recession.
Shrill voices on the right insist that government is the problem and that reducing government spending should be the top priority, while asking the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes is off the table.
This perspective, however, ignores the stark facts: economic inequality in this nation is now the most severe in U.S. history. The wealthiest one percent of households hold more than one-third of national wealth, according to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).
Economic inequality in this nation is now the most severe in U.S. history. The wealthiest one percent of households hold more than one-third of national wealth, according to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute.
While middle class workers’ wages have been stagnant, the income of the top one percent has increased dramatically.
EPI reports: “In 2007, the one percent of households with the highest incomes received 17.1 percent of all after-tax income, more than double their 7.5 percent share in 1979.”
Voices on the right say that spending on education, health care, and other vital needs is unsustainable.
Yet the Bush-era tax cuts, if continued, will be the single largest contributor to the federal deficit between 2009 and 2019, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The Bush-era tax cuts, which disproportionately benefited the very wealthy, simply are not sustainable.
People have a right to be angry about the slow economic recovery.
The prescription offered by the right, however, will kill the patient.
Instead, we need state and federal government to invest in our future, to invest in education, to invest in infrastructure and put people back to work.
In St. Paul and in Washington, we need to fight for tax policies that ask the rich to pay their fair share of taxes.
In St. Paul and in Washington, we need to defend collective bargaining rights and our unions from right wing attacks.
We need to protect the essential safety net programs that benefit our middle class families and the poor: Social Security and Medicare are way too important to everyone’s future to risk.
And we need to tell labor’s friends in public office in St. Paul and Washington: You need to stand with us in these fights. You need to stand with us to reshape the debate. You need to stand with us, not the wealthy and the big corporations.
Beginning on Labor Day, the national AFL-CIO will launch a fall mobilization to demand jobs and investment: “We are One: America Wants to Work.” The campaign will build to a National Week of Action early in October.
The Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation will be part of this effort. We will work to engage our affiliated unions, partner with community groups, and mobilize the unemployed in this campaign.
This is a fight for America’s future, a fight to protect the middle class, a fight to rebuild the American Dream.
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