Saturday, February 28, 2009

Call for "First Friday" Actions, To Begin April 3, 2009


Organize Local Press Conferences and Demonstrations to Protest Growing Unemployment, and Devastating Impacts on Workers and Communities

We, the undersigned, call for regular local press conferences and demonstrations on the First Friday of each month, to 1) demand decent, living wage jobs for everyone who wants to work; 2) ensure there is adequate income and support for all unemployed, underemployed and underpaid workers; and 3) call attention to priority public needs that can be addressed through new programs of public and private job creation.

Across the U.S., unemployment and underemployment are rising at a dramatic rate. In February, 2009 alone, more than 650 thousand jobs were lost, the highest rate of monthly job loss since 1949, bringing the national unemployment rate to 8.1%. For minority teens, rates are already at Depression levels.

11.4 million people are now officially unemployed, and an additional 13.6 are classified as “hidden unemployed,” either because they can’t find full-time work, or have given up looking because they are too discourage.

This means there now 9 job seekers for every available job opening. In addition, many employed workers do not even earn a living wage. In 2007, 17.6 million workers – 16.2% of the fulltime workforce, worked full-time, year-round, yet earned less than the official poverty level for a family of four.

Behind these statistics lies a grim, lethal reality. Unemployment, underemployment and inadequate wages devastate the people who are denied adequate work and a decent living, and disrupts family and community life. The chronic shortage of decent jobs contributes directly to increased marital and family breakup, increased evictions and homelessness, rising crime and community abandonment.

Rising unemployment not only causes hardships for job losers but reduces tax revenues by billions of dollars—dollars that could finance vital social programs and create more jobs. Unemployment literally throws away billions of dollars of potential national output—schools and housing not built, child and elder care not provided.

As the economy continues in free fall, workers and representatives of community, labor and religious organizations must organize and speak out, and call attention to the growing unemployment crisis.

Why the First Friday?

On the first Friday of each month the Labor Dept. releases the previous month's unemployment numbers, and the issue of unemployment and joblessness gets regular attention from the news media. This is an excellent time to call attention to rising job loss and its devastating human and financial consequences.

Beginning on April 3, 2009, the National Jobs for All Coalition urges activist groups and unemployed workers to hold news conferences, vigils, pickets at unemployment offices, and to take other creative action to demand jobs and an effective safety net to protect the unemployed and others hurt by this economic crisis.

The National Jobs For All Coalition is calling for Drive for Decent Work -- a package of additional federal bills to improve our society and create millions of needed jobs. The federal economic stimulus bill is a good start, but much more needs to be done to stem the employment crisis.

The U.S. has a huge backlog of needs for fixing our physical infrastructure and increasing public services such as education, health care, and child care. We propose to link the movement for good jobs for all to grassroots movements to meet unmet needs for clean energy, better schools and housing, mass transportation, education and other public services.

The Drive for Decent Work is our blueprint for job creation, but we welcome your ideas and suggestions. Please check our web sites at and for the most current update.

We are also asking groups to consider organizing town meetings or forums on the economic crisis and its impact in their communities. The country needs a lively public debate on the directions we might take to deal with the recession/depression. We face both a difficult time and a time of great opportunity to build a grassroots movement for change.

These actions, modest though they may be at the outset, will require work to coordinate and then build upon. We believe that these actions -- and the community dialogue and activism they generate – can become a driving force for a much more powerful movement for jobs and economic justice.

Through the First Friday movement, we will work to build up a national network of community, labor, religious and civic organizations concerned about rising unemployment and lasting solutions to the economic crisis. We will also work to gather organizational endorsements and target key cities and towns for endorsing resolutions supporting the Drive for Decent Work, and calling for passage of additional job creation and economic stimulus measures.

For Jobs & Peace.

Logan Martinez, Outreach Coordinator
937-275-7259 / cell 937-609-3701
Email: loganmartinez2u [at]


Endorse the call to action by emailing Logan at: loganmartinez2u [at]

Word version of call to action available at:
HTML Version on NJFAC site:

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nonprofit jobs need better pay

Here's a great article from Philanthropy Journal by Rick Cohen on the casualization of the nonprofit workforce.

America faces a clear policy choice as to whether to pay living wages and benefits to nonprofit sector workers, or to continue to underfund our social service sector. Making all human service jobs decent jobs would strengthen the economy, and ensure that people who work at nonprofit human service jobs don't live and retire on the edge of poverty themselves.

Nonprofit jobs need better pay from Philanthropy Journal:

Rick Cohen February 23, 2009

The current wave of enthusiasm for service and volunteerism in the nonprofit sector -- key components of the Obama-Biden campaign platform that are likely to come to pass with the enactment of Serve America Act co-sponsored by Senators Orrin Hatch and Ted Kennedy -- risks distorting the American public's perception of what constitutes good nonprofit jobs, particularly in human services.

This is a difficult time to challenge inadequate nonprofit wages.

Unemployment and underemployment have skyrocketed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.1 million people became unemployed in the last 12 months, including nearly 600,000 in January 2009 alone.

People counted as "involuntarily part-time" because they can't find good full-time jobs increased by 3.1 million over the year.

Facing the worst recession since the 1930s, a nation that not long ago decried Wal-Mart and Target jobs as abysmal and called for government contractors to pay "living wages" now seems prepared to accept nearly anything that will generate paychecks.

The economic stimulus package signed by President Obama aims at stimulating construction in "shovel-ready" public improvement projects and jump-starting demand for cars and trucks that will reemploy laid-off Detroit autoworkers.

Even with wage concessions, construction and manufacturing jobs won't be sub-living wage.

But what is the message for nonprofit human service jobs in this economic crisis?

The major initiatives in the public's consciousness to build and sustain employment in the nonprofit sector generally sound like pretty low-wage, volunteer responses to the need to fill nonprofit line jobs with decently-paid and trained professionals.

During the presidential campaign, candidates Obama and Biden released a document titled, "Helping All Americans Serve Their Country," heavily oriented to a range of stipended and volunteer additions to the AmeriCorps family of programs.

For example, the statement called for an increase in the size of AmeriCorps from its current roughly 75,000 slots to 250,000 through initiatives focused on classroom teaching, health services, clean energy and homeland security.

This is just about exactly the projected AmeriCorps size in the Kennedy-Hatch bill.
AmeriCorps is a program that many Americans adore for a variety of reasons ranging from its impact on participants' civic participation to the notion of doing community service work to earn money to be used for college or graduate school tuition.

But AmeriCorps jobs, with annual stipends of around $10,000 or $11,000, are not the equivalent of good jobs. They are generally below living wage, barely above the upcoming July 2009 federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Realize further than more than half of AmeriCorps participants are actually only part-time, probably working their tails off, like most AmeriCorps people, nonetheless.

Just read the AmeriCorps jobs tips for helping participants find affordable-housing accommodations on these living stipends.

AmeriCorps stipends do not constitute good wages in the nonprofit human-services sector. But as nonprofits are being compelled due to philanthropic and government cutbacks to lay off staff, replacing them with AmeriCorps bodies could lead to the deleterious idea that nonprofits don't need to pay well, pay living wages, offer benefits, offer union-like job protections, offer full-time jobs, create long-term career paths, or recruit and build professional skills among their staff in order to deliver their goods and services.

A batch of observers has suggested that these 250,000 AmeriCorps slots be counted as stimulus-induced and stimulus-inducing job creation.

The public impression that nonprofit jobs are low-paid, poverty-wage jobs in which enthusiasm and caring takes the place of technical skills and professional continuity is not the way to build and sustain a nonprofit workforce.

Moreover, it is a terrible message to send for the human-services delivery part of the nonprofit sector in which people of color and women constitute disproportionately high percentages of the workforce.

The downside risk of substituting low-paid stipended-volunteers for nonprofit human-services jobs is the dynamic of the "casualization of jobs" that Robert Kuttner of the American Prospect describes as jobs that pay low-wages, offer weak or no benefits, and little in the way of job protections, which he describes as the "industry standard" in the human service sector.

He suggests an alternative to the drift toward casual jobs as the norm in the human-services sector, nonprofit and for-profit:

"Since most human-service costs are paid socially, choices about how to compensate workers are social decisions...Congress could require that any job in the human services supported in whole or in part by federal funds would have to pay a professional wage and be part of a career track [with a] minimum starting annual salary might be $24,000 a year, or about $12 an hour..."

That's not much of a salary, but it might stanch the public's thinking that the nonprofit workforce can be sustained with an oversupply of caring and concern to make up for the shortfalls in take-home pay and job protections.

Despite the campaign's overreliance on volunteerism as the labor solution for the nonprofit sector, abetted by Colin Powell's leading role in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day "Day of Service" this past January, harkening back to his 1977 volunteer summit during the Clinton Administration that led to the creation of America's Promise, there is an audience in the new administration for remembering the importance of good jobs in the nonprofit sector.

An important hint came from Shirley Sagawa, rumored to be in line for a top Obama administration post, who suggested it might be more important to focus on the quality of AmeriCorps jobs, not simply by the "number of bodies" in the program.

One national nonprofit leader recently called on Congress to "ensure that nonprofit workers stay on the job" if the nonprofit sector is going to be able to fulfill its role in the national economic recovery.

That is not going to happen if the national recovery classifies private-sector jobs as worthy of decent wages and protections, but nonprofit jobs to be filled by people paid little or nothing.

Rick Cohen is national correspondent for The Nonprofit Quarterly.

Article cross-posted from:

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Saving the Banks vs. Saving the Bankers

Nobel Prize-Winning Economist Joseph Stiglitz: Obama Has Confused Saving the Banks with Saving the Bankers, from Democracy Now!

"We get reaction to President Obama’s speech from Nobel economics laureate and former World Bank chief economist, Joseph Stiglitz. Stiglitz says the Obama administration has failed to address the structural and regulatory flaws at the heart of the financial crisis that stand in the way of economic
. "

Stiglitz also talks about why he thinks Obama’s strategy on Afghanistan is wrong and that Obama’s plan to keep a “residual force” in Iraq will be “very expensive.” On health care, Stiglitz says a single-payer system is “the only alternative.” [includes rush transcript]"

Read / listen to interview at Democracy Now! web site.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Detroit: Arsenal of Creativity

Here's a good article by Jenny Lee of Allied Media Projects about grassroots ideas for revitalizing Detroit's flagging economy, including expanding access to broadband internet, cultivating the local music economy, and encouraging local media production.

Michigan economic development officials are targeting the film industry as one component of a business development strategy for Detroit. But much, much more could potentially be done to build a stronger media-arts based economy.

WireTap Magazine - Detroit: Arsenal of Creativity

"Amid the current crisis we have an opportunity to fill the gap in our region's economy with diverse local initiatives, including community-based media, which thrives off the city's creative past and present."

"Ensuring that every household in Detroit has access to affordable, high-speed Internet has the potential to transform everything from education to public safety. Every year, the Allied Media Conference showcases new forms of collaborative learning through the Internet -- from environmental justice Google maps to digital storytelling exchanges between youth of color in the U.S. and youth in Palestine. These kinds of projects utilize the Internet to expand
students' belief in what's possible..."

"Barry Gordy started Motown Records with an $800 loan from his family. It went on to become the largest independent record label in the world before it was sold to MCA in 1988.
But today in Detroit, the city with the highest high school drop-out rate in the country, the easiest way for a young person to develop their entrepreneurial skills is by selling drugs. That's the conclusion reached by the Detroit Summer Live Arts Media Project, a youth media organization that has been conducting research into the city's drop-out crisis and proposing solutions. The study also found that schools don't teach students realistic, independent
strategies for turning their dreams into realities. Instead, young, talented artists hold onto the unrealistic dream of getting signed to a major record label."

"Detroit should look at models such as the High School for Recording Arts for lessons on how to integrate media arts and independent economics into the standard curriculum. With schools in Los Angeles, Minneapolis and New York, HSRA is designed to retain youth who might otherwise drop out of school."

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Schools desperately need traditional federal aid |

What moral principle drives politicians and pundits to argue for sharply reduce spending on school repair and construction in the economic stimulus plan? Remember this unconscionable omission, the next time you read about overcrowded schools, schools infected with toxic mold, and bricks literally falling off out of the walls.

The children ARE our future, and this country has the resources it takes to give them a decent education. Last time I checked, the CEOs who made off with all the loot still have a lot of yachts in dry dock. Maybe they can hold a bake sale to help pay for America's crumbling schools.

Schools desperately need traditional federal aid

"Let’s suppose your neighborhood public school is falling down. Should the federal government help repair or replace it?

No, say many Republicans in Congress. The House approved $20 billion for school construction last week, as part of President Obama’s stimulus plan. On Tuesday, under pressure from GOP critics, the Senate removed these funds from its own version of the bill. Now the House and Senate have to hammer out a compromise, which Democrats want to ready for Obama’s signature by Monday.

According to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of the chief architects of the Senate stimulus bill, Republicans think school construction is a “state and local role” rather than a “federal role.”

They’re wrong. During our last great economic crisis, in the 1930s, the federal government spent heavily on school construction. Indeed, Franklin D. Roosevelt made school repair and renovation a central priority of his own recovery plan. And we could all stand to learn from it."

Read rest of article

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

House creates more jobs than Senate bill

House Recovery Act Creates More Jobs than Senate Compromise, Will Straw, February 9, 2009, Center for Economic Progress

*Read "House Recovery Act Creates More Jobs than Senate Compromise" for the most up-to-date numbers and state-by-state chart.

Read also: Getting the Economic Recovery Bill Right

The Senate compromise recovery and reinvestment legislation provides for 12 to 15 percent fewer jobs created or saved than the House-passed Recovery and Reinvestment Act despite costing slightly more. The House-passed legislation creates or saves between 430,000 and 538,000 more jobs than the Senate compromise.

As outlined by Michael Ettlinger in “A Step Forward, a Stumble Back,” the greater job creation in the House bill is because the balance is more focused on investment programs than on less effective tax cuts. The reverse is true in the Senate compromise which, among other tax measures, includes a patch to the Alternative Minimum Tax that will not be as stimulative as investments in infrastructure or fiscal help to states that the compromise pares back.

read rest of article:

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Rohatyn on Stimulus

Questions for Felix Rohatyn - The Builder - Interview -

"What do you make of President Obama’s $800-billion-plus stimulus package?

Rohatyn: I totally support Obama, but I would argue in favor of a greater amount of infrastructure investment and probably fewer tax cuts. There should be less concern about rapid liquidation and greater emphasis on long-term investments."

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Remembering the WPA

American-Made, another recent book about the history of WPA, provides a comprehensive history of the program:

American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA by Nick Taylor (Random House)

The book web site features an interactive historical timeline, and a partial list of WPA projects in each state

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Long-Range Public Investment: The Forgotten Legacy of the New Deal - Democratic Underground

Here's a good book suggested by National Jobs for All Coalition (NJFAC) Executive Committee member Margeurite Rosenthal:

Long-Range Public Investment: The Forgotten Legacy of the New Deal:

Robert Leighninger tells the incredible story of public investment during the New Deal, when the federal government built schools, housing, bridges, power plants, zoos, farmers' markets, and stadiums and changed the face of America. Although the original goal was to combat the Depression, these infrastructure investments turned out to be some of the most successful anywhere in the world. Eighty years later, many still stand—from Hoover Dam to the San Antonio River Walk and even the 18th Precinct police station in New York City. Leighninger also provides a fine brief history of government-funded infrastructure going back to Washington and Hamilton.

Available from The Union Shop Online.™"

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Hey Congress!! Where's the funding for affordable housing?

Editorial - A Stimulus for the Poor -

Published: February 6, 2009

"The stimulus package taking shape in Congress does little to provide affordable housing for the country’s poorest families. That is grim news. Affordable housing has been hard to find in recent years. It’s even harder now that many Americans have lost their jobs and homes."

"Congress could help low-income Americans find homes — and create jobs doing it — by providing money for the National Housing Trust Fund, a worthy program it created last summer but has so far failed to finance. The Senate and House versions of the stimulus bills do not now contain such money, but funds could and should be added in the conference committee that must reconcile the bills..."

"Estimates by the National Low Income Housing Coalition suggest that a Congressional down payment of $10 billion for the fund, plus $3.5 billion in housing vouchers under the Section 8 program, could produce affordable housing for up to 400,000 people. New construction would, of course, spawn new jobs right away."

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1,000 applicants show up for 35 job openings in Miami

The Miami Herald, 02/03/09

In just under 12 hours Monday, the chance to become a Miami firefighter disappeared.

More than 1,000 applicants had stood in line -- many of them camping out overnight -- to apply for 35 firefighter jobs that offer $46,000 a year, plus benefits. The city started taking applications from those who qualified at 8 a.m.

They stopped accepting the applications at 7:50 p.m., when they hit their limit of prospective firefighters -- 750, city spokeswoman Kelly Penton said.

''We've never had this kind of turnout,'' Penton said. ``This is unprecedented.''

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Workers seek help as unemployment crisis widens

NJ welfare lines grow longer as jobs continue to dry up -

"Photos by Jerry McCrea/The Star-Ledger The line extends down the block from the Essex County Department of Citizen Services in East Orange. Below, resident Jay Washington is one of those having trouble rejoining the workforce."

"By 9 a.m., the line snakes down South Clinton Street and extends along Freeway East. Once the people clear the metal detector, they're in line again -- some for hours, baby carriages in tow -- divided into their different needs. Every week hundreds will leave empty-handed because county workers are too inundated to help them all. They are given an appointment and told to come back later -- sometimes 10 days later."

"All over the New Jersey, the welfare lines are getting longer and longer. Victims of the recession are lining up to apply for food stamps and seek help paying for utilities, rent and subsidized health care in numbers that veteran social service workers have never seen before."

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Fix America's unsafe dams!!

Progressive government in the 1930s helped create dams that now need to be renewed... Without a massive new public investment program, it isn't clear how unsafe dams will be fixed.

Here's a local example of this shocking problem.

Two unsafe area dams need work - - The Pocono Record:

By Beth Brelje
Pocono Record Writer
February 07, 2009

"Two dams that guard East Stroudsburg's drinking water are considered unsafe by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. It doesn't mean the dams are in imminent danger of bursting, but they do need some expensive attention.

The East Stroudsburg Dam and Middle Dam manage the flow of water at a reservoir on Reservoir Run, formerly known as Sambo Creek, in Smithfield and Middle Smithfield townships...

The dams were built in the 1930s as projects for the Works Progress Administration, according to records in East Stroudburg. Since then, spillway requirements have changed. Today both dams have spillways incapable of handling a probable maximum flood, sometimes called a 500-year flood, or worst-case-scenario flood."

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AddThis Social Bookmark Button U.S. Jobless Rate Soared in January and Payrolls Kept Plunging U.S.:

"Feb. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Millions more U.S. workers are likely to lose their jobs after the economy’s freefall sent unemployment in January to the highest level since 1992 and payrolls tumbled, reinforcing the need for an economic stimulus plan.
The jobless rate rose to 7.6 percent from 7.2 percent in December, the Labor Department reported yesterday in Washington. Payrolls fell by 598,000, the biggest monthly drop since December 1974. Losses spanned almost all industries, from construction and manufacturing to retailing, trucking, media and finance.
“The scary thing is there is really no end in sight to the soaring jobless rate,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York."

Read rest of article

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WPA Posters

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.