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This year’s Labor Day is a bittersweet occasion.  On the one hand, it is always in order to pay respect to the accomplishments of America’s working men and women and the labor unions which represent them.  On the other, it is dispiriting to see how many jobs have been lost since the beginning of the economic downturn in 2007, and how slowly new jobs are being created.

The loss of American jobs had begun well before 2007, of course, as corporations sought to bolster profits by “outsourcing” jobs to other countries at the expense of their own workforces.  But with the onset of the recession, American workers suffered anew under job eliminations, furloughs, outsourcing, wage and pension cuts and part-timing.  Although the economy has begun to grow slowly, jobs continue to be lost as employers resist re-hiring to handle increased business.  In addition, older workers who previously held mid-level positions have been forced to accept lower-paying jobs, reducing their standards of living and blocking younger workers from finding employment.

I am not surprised that the economic recovery has been slow.  One reason for the sluggish recovery is that American workers now have less money to spend on goods and services.  Historically, America’s economy boomed as steady jobs and higher wages created a stable, prosperous middle class.

But those inhabiting corporate boardrooms have failed to learn from history and are cutting jobs, pay rates and pensions.  As the short-sighted old New England farmer was heard to grumble, “I’m gonna quit feeding that cow until she starts giving me more milk.”

Fortunately, Democrats are working cooperatively with labor unions to oppose this trend.  This summer, Congress overcame stubborn Republican opposition and passed a $26 billion bill to save the jobs of more than 900,000 state and local workers facing layoffs.  And President Obama quickly signed it into law.

I applaud steps by Congress and the President to create more jobs for American workers.  These steps should include expanded credit for small businesses to expand and hire new workers, disincentives to export American jobs to low-wage countries, and public investment in infrastructure.  These and many other actions will — despite Republican opposition — put more Americans back to work so that they can support their families and rebuild their shattered savings.

As one who, during my 26 years in the telephone industry, came to respect the dedication and professionalism of my unionized co-workers, I am proud to have earned the support of numerous labor unions.  These include the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, the American and Pennsylvania Postal Workers Unions, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Ironworkers International Union, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the Carpenters Legislative Improvement Committee, the Central Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council, Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers.

One Response

  1. American manufacturing should let workers know, jobs that will last in manufacturing will not be created by new investments in our country, knowing that the Federal Government is not seriously addressing, the “economic pass” that has been given to foreign ships polluting our waters with ballast discharges and carbon emmissions as they bring their foreign manufactured products into our country. With this administration not addressing the issues of one Senator Boxer who objected to historic legislation passed by the House (395-7) in 2008, and then delaying action on ballast water with another study to coincide with a 20 year military plan ,it shows those who manufacture goods that a policy of economic globalization is still being pursued over economic Americanization, and will continue to stiffle the cost of manufacturing in our country. This is especially evident by a report created in 2009 for congress that describes the cost of national ballast water legislation mandating installation of technology. The report suggest the cost would be incurred by, mainly foreign ships, bring foreign imports into our country and this would cause the cost of imports to rise. Currently our military is offering incentives to foreign ships, importing foreign goods, to install technology to protect our waters. If they leveled the playing field with legislation that protected our water, and our commander and chief directed the military to worry about enforcement, rather than offering incentives to ease the problems that cost, would create for foreign shipping bringing foreign manufactured goods into our country, manufacturing may again decide to investment in America. Back in the 1990’s environmentalist were not happy with President Clintons, help to delegate ballast water under the Clean Water Act to the EPA, they knew then with all the new free trade treaties and visions of economic globalization being the way for America’s future that his plan had holes in it.

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