Yesterday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka gave a major address on the economy and the jobs crisis at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C:
A generation ago, our nation’s policymakers embarked on a campaign of radical deregulation and corporate empowerment – one that celebrated private greed over public service . . .
These policies culminated in the worst economic decade in living memory—we suffered a net loss of jobs, the housing market collapsed, real wages fell and more children fell into poverty. And the enormous growth in inequality during that decade yielded mediocre growth overall. This is not a portrait of a cyclical recession, but of a nation with profound, unaddressed structural economic problems on a long-term, downward slide.
Our structural problems pre-date the crisis that hit in 2007 and they are not going to go away by themselves in 2010.
In the short term, Trumka called for the enactment of the AFL-CIO Five Point Plan to stem job losses, create new employment and bring the recovery to Main Street.
Trumka acknowledged that creating jobs without addressing the basic inequalities which led to collapse is not enough to prevent another crisis. He said that workers must have the bargaining power to turn new jobs into good jobs, and that the Employee Free Choice Act will restore the freedom of workers to form unions. He also called for regulation of the financial industry and for “a combination of fair trade and currency policies, worker training, infrastructure investment and regional development policies targeted to help economically distressed areas.”
Trumka had stern warnings for politicians who were quick to bailout Wall Street, but slow to help Main Street:
The reality is that when unemployment is 10 percent and rising, working people will not stand for tokenism. We will not vote for politicians who think they can push a few crumbs our way and then continue the failed economic policies of the last 30 years.
The full speech, which outlines a clear vision for the labor movement, is a must see. Video is available from C-SPAN: http://www.c-span.org/Watch/Media/2010/01/11/HP/R/28205/AFLCIO+President+Offers+Vision+for+Labors+Future.aspx
You can also read Trumka’s full remarks: http://wisaflcio.typepad.com/REMARKSTrumkaPressClub_Jan11.pdf