Wednesday, December 16, 2009

AFL-CIO President Trumka Answers Questions From Members

Trumka Answers Your Questions, Lays Out Economic Vision
by Seth Michaels, Dec 16, 2009

In a great live Web discussion yesterday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka answered a wide range of questions on the nation’s economic crisis, setting out a vision for short-term job creation and long-term progress toward a fairer economy.

Trumka touched on trade, green jobs, the challenges facing young and older workers, unity in the labor movement and more in an hour-long conversation. More than 6,700 union members and activists took part by submitting and voting on more than 150 questions.

The AFL-CIO has offered a five-point plan to put people to work and turn around the economy. We can and must create jobs now and spur consumer demand, Trumka said in explaining the plan.

Our current economic crisis is just a symptom of larger long-term weakness and inequality in our economy, Trumka said, and good jobs are the solution:

Remember, wages have been stagnant for years, so people had to start borrowing…we got to the point where people just couldn’t borrow any more and the economy just sort of collapsed at that point…we reached the limit of that. Debt can’t continue to be the engine that fuels the economy.

When we talk about stimulating or rebuilding the economy, Trumka asks, we need to ask: “To what end?”

If we’re just rebuilding the old broken economy—with an under-regulated financial sector taking precedence over the real economy—then we haven’t really gotten anywhere. We need an economy where productivity is rewarded and prosperity is fairly shared.

In particular, Trumka says that to ensure the economy is really working in the long term, we need to give workers the ability to bargain for a fair share. The freedom to bargain means we won’t just create jobs, we’ll create good jobs. That means passing the Employee Free Choice Act and giving workers the freedom to form a union—and it means training more organizers to help workers across the country form a union and get a fair contract. That will give people the wages and the economic security they need to support the economy, provide for their families and get engaged in their communities.

You can watch more of this great conversation here.

More questions answered by AFL-CIO President Trumka here at:

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