Thursday, September 8, 2011

Poverty-Level Wages Common in US Labor Market

Yes, We Need Jobs. But What Kind?

by Paul Osterman, 9/5/11

"...ON Thursday, President Obama will deliver a major speech on America’s employment crisis. But too often, what is lost in the call for job creation is a clear idea of what jobs we want to create."

"I recently led a research team to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry, a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, has advertised his track record of creating jobs. From January 2000 to January 2010, employment in the Valley grew by a remarkable 42 percent, compared with our nation’s anemic 1 percent job growth."

"But the median wage for adults in the Valley between 2005 and 2008 was a stunningly low $8.14 an hour (in 2008 dollars). One in four employed adults earned less than $6.19 an hour. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reported that the per capita income in the two metropolitan statistical areas spanning the Valley ranked lowest and second lowest in the nation."

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Good Jobs America -- new book by Paul Osterman and Beth Shulman

The Challenge of Creating Good Jobs -

Economix: Explaining the Science of Everyday Life
By Steven Greenhouse

"...In their new book, “Good Jobs America: Making Work Better for Everyone,” Paul Osterman and Beth Shulman argue that the United States needs to worry about not just creating millions more jobs but also ensuring that the jobs are good ones.

By good jobs, the authors mean jobs that pay enough to support a family and provide decent, safe conditions. The authors voice concern that many middle-class jobs have disappeared or deteriorated into low-wage ones that cause families to fall below the poverty line.

Taking a view contrary to that of many economists and politicians, they argue that government can and should play a vigorous role in encouraging employers to create good jobs — perhaps by providing tax incentives that require employers to pay a living wage.

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

WBAI City Watch Interview on the Unemployment Crisis

Chuck Bell, vice chair of the National Jobs for All Coalition, participated in a Labor Day weekend interview on WBAI City Watch, to discuss national job creation legislation

Listen to the interview in the WBAI City Watch archive

For more information about HR 870, the Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act, and the other bills discussed in the interview, visit

Saturday September 3, 10-11am City Watch
City Watch is a watchdog for social, economic, political and cultural issues in New York City. Our September 3rd show will examine the status of American workers this Labor Day. Guests are:

-- Chuck Bell of the National Jobs for All Coalition, discussing full employment initiatives at the federal level. Jobs proposals include HR 870 (Conyers) The Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment & Training Act and Rep. Jan Schakowsky's Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act to create 2 million jobs.

-- Dal Lamagna, Co-Managing Partner of IceStone in Brooklyn, talking about why he agrees with Warren Buffet that rich people like them should pay more taxes. Lamagna is a member of Business for Shared Prosperity and Patriotic Millionaires

-- Stanley Aronowitz, CUNY professor, labor activist and former Green Party candidate for Governor. He discusses the status of the labor movement in the US and efforts to create jobs.

Direct links:

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Workers and Sustainability

American Labor: A Sustainable Path by Joe Uehlein

This Labor Day, as union membership falls to a mere seven percent of private sector workers and bargaining and political clout shrink to match, two roads diverge for American labor. One is to attempt to find a niche within an economic-political system that is ever more shaped by short-term greed and is therefore ever more unsustainable economically, socially, and environmentally. The other is to align with the long-term interest of workers in transforming that system to provide for a sustainable future for the planet and its people. Organized labor will have a better future if it chooses the second road.

To have a future itself, organized labor needs to reorient itself around the objective of providing a sustainable future for all working people and the world we inhabit. That means putting millions of people to work creating a sustainable economy, society, and environment.

Nothing is more threatening to our long-term sustainability than climate change. It is affecting American workers here and now through forest fires, dust storms, rising sea levels, and extreme weather events like floods, droughts, tornados, blizzards and hurricanes. So far this year there have been an unprecedented eight weather-related disasters that have each done more than a billion dollars worth of damage to states from Texas to Maine.

The Great Recession represented the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Even during the so-called recovery, American workers continued to face unemployment rates unprecedented since the Great Depression. Now as that recovery falters, the private sector appears to have little to offer besides more unemployment, more insecurity, more wage cuts, and more misery.

It will take the labor of millions of people to reconstruct our economy on a climate safe basis. The solution for labor, as for America and indeed for the world, lies in a Green New Deal to mobilize our unused human resources to meet our increasingly desperate needs. rest of article at

Joe Uehlein is the former secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO’s Industrial Union Department and former director of the AFL-CIO Center for Strategic Campaigns. Joe is the Executive Director of Voices for a Sustainable Future. He spent over 30 years doing organizing, bargaining, and strategic campaign work in the labor movement. He also performs regularly with his roots-rock revival band The U-Liners.
[He is also on the Advisory Board of the National Jobs for All Coalition.--jz]

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