To Gain Jobs, They Must Fight for Them

By Harry Kelber | The American Labor Reform Movement | November 9, 2012

It is one of the paradoxes of life that the jobs campaigns by the AFL-CIO and its affiliates have been led by fully-employed union members, without a single jobless worker in a leadership role.

One would expect that with millions of people unable to find decent jobs, Congress would be besieged by tens of thousands of angry, frustrated groups and individuals who were demanding action.

Yet, surprisingly, the unemployed have remained largely silent and have hardly complained publicly about the hardship and suffering their families are enduring. And that is also true of the several millions of people who have been out of work for 26 weeks or more.

In sharp contrast, the unemployed in countries around the world are fighting their governments’ "austerity" programs with protest demonstrations before Parliament, nationwide strikes, production slowdowns, sit-ins and factory takeovers. Why are unemployed Americans acting so meekly? Why are they letting their bosses step all over them without a murmur of real "fight back"?

Our jobless workers are not getting any real help from the labor movement except lip service. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka continues to make his militant speeches, but everyone knows he won’t lift a finger to mobilize the millions of jobless workers for a real nationwide jobs campaign. Labor leaders like Trumka are now just pretending to fight for jobs to cover up their surrender.

Mobilize the Jobless for a Winning Campaign

As a first step, we’ve got to establish contact with as many unemployed as possible. Each state AFL-CIO should assign a task force to round up the unemployed and convince them to become a contingent in a nationwide jobs campaign.

Each statewide contingent of jobless workers should meet and demand a conference with all of the congressional representatives in that state. Congress should be bombarded by continuous delegations from each state using whatever non-violent, civil disobedience actions seem appropriate.

It’s time that well-paid, well-housed and well-fed Congressional lawmakers should be forced to recognize that providing jobs for suffering fellow Americans must be their top priority.

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