Trumka Takes on the 'Neoliberalism' that Broke U.S. Economy

In Tuesday's live Web chat, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka talked about what we need to do to fix our economy in both the short term and the long term--and touched on a vital, too-infrequently discussed issue: the need to end the stranglehold neoliberal economic thinking has on our politics.

Spurred by Milton Friedman and other economists, the neoliberal agenda is based on the radical principle that it's markets, not people, that matter most. By nature, the neoliberal principle is hostile to collective bargaining, public regulation and all manner of ways to leverage community power to balance out the power of wealth. Trumka sums up Friedman's poisonous political philosophy:

He believed that anything that got in the way of the free market was something that was bad and should be eliminated. Any regulation on business is bad, so get rid of it; any tax on business is bad and distorts the marketplace, get rid of it. A union is bad and distorts the marketplace, so you have to get rid of it.

For the last 30 years, that's the system that we've had here. It brought us to this crisis.

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Young Workers: Hit Hard, Hitting Back

This is a Huffington Post piece by AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler.

As the newly elected secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, I traveled the country this fall, talking with workers and hearing their concerns. The economic crisis is causing a lot of pain. So many people have no jobs, no health care--and many are losing their homes. And as I looked into the faces of young workers, the reality hit home that these young people are part of the first generation in recent history likely to be worse off than their parents.

This is a tragedy.

The AFL-CIO and our community affiliate, Working America, recently surveyed young workers--and I'm not talking about 17- and 18-year-olds. I'm talking about 18- to 34-year-olds. In the past 10 years, young workers have suffered disproportionately from the downturn in the economy:

  • One in three young workers is worried about being able to find a job--let alone a full-time job with benefits.

  • Only 31 percent make enough money to cover their bills and put some aside--that is 22 percentage points worse than it was 10 years ago.

  • Nearly half worry about having more debt than they can handle.

  • One in three still lives at home with parents.

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Trumka: Open for Questions on the Jobs Crisis

On Dec. 15, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will host a live online conversation on the nation's jobs crisis--and you can take part.

Starting today, you can submit questions and vote on other ones submitted to the AFL-CIO's "Open for Questions About the Jobs Crisis." Trumka will answer the top-rated questions in the live online video discussion at 4 p.m. EST on Tues., Dec. 15.

Here's how to take part:

  • * Visit to submit a question and vote on questions.

  • * Sign in here to participate if you have a Google account.

  • * If you don't have a Google account, create one here.

Trumka will engage with union members and working family activists around the country and share solutions for restoring good jobs and revitalizing the nation's economy.

Tune in here at 4 p.m. EST on Dec. 15 and get involved by submitting or voting on questions.

Check out the AFL-CIO five-point jobs plan here.

(Cross-posted from the AFL-CIO Now Blog.)

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Win-Win: Create Good Jobs, Rebuild Nation's Infrastructure

The second in a series on the AFL-CIO's job creation proposals.

As part of the AFL-CIO's five-point plan for job creation, we're making concrete proposals to address the nation's immediate jobs crisis while keeping an eye on creating a sustainable economy in the future.

Investment in rebuilding the nation's infrastructure can put millions of people to work now and improve our country for the long term. The United States has some $2.2 trillion in unmet infrastructure needs. That's a lot of work that needs to be done, at a time when 26 million people are unemployed or underemployed.

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Renewing Unemployment Insurance: A Moral, Economic Must

Part 1 in a series on the AFL-CIO's plan to address the jobs crisis.

To tackle our nation's ongoing jobs crisis, the AFL-CIO has put forth a five-point plan to put people back to work and restore our economy. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka presented this five-part plan at the White House Jobs Summit last week.

The first step in this plan is to extend a lifeline to the people who have been hit the hardest by the jobs crisis.

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Trumka: Jobs Crisis--Fix It Now

Today at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and other leaders joined together to call for urgent action to create jobs and rebuild the economy.

In a live webcast panel discussion, the consensus was clear: Without quick action, an entire generation could be mired in economic turmoil. The nation can, and must, put people back to work--while addressing critical needs for the future of our communities.

The scale of the jobs crisis is obvious: Since the beginning of the recession, more than 8 million jobs have been lost. The official unemployment rate is at 10.2 percent, with more than 26 million unemployed or underemployed. These figures are even more severe among African American and Latino communities. Young people are at risk of permanently stunted opportunity, and the jobs crisis is rebounding throughout the country with increased hunger and poverty, massive numbers of home foreclosures and diminished access to health care.

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Trumka to Launch Jobs Initiative Tomorrow

Tomorrow morning, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will announce a major new initiative to create and save jobs.

(Watch the live webcast at starting at 9 a.m.)

Trumka will be part of a noted panel in "Spotlight on the Jobs Crisis" at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

With unemployment at its highest rate in more than 20 years, Trumka says America needs bold, quick action to put people back to work, in addition to longer term, structural fixes for our economy. The AFL-CIO initiative he announces will include calls to extend help for the unemployed, rebuild the nation's infrastructure, provide aid to struggling states and communities, create federally funded community-based jobs and increase lending to small and medium-sized businesses to spur job creation.

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Showdown in Chicago: Thousands Protest Bankers

More than 5,000 people are packing the streets of downtown Chicago this morning, chanting, marching and rallying against Big Bankers and financial institutions that have taken taxpayer money and are using it to give big bonuses to CEOs and to lobby against financial reforms that would ensure they don't go back on the public dole.

The crowd is marching to the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, site of the American Bankers Association meeting, to protest the banking industry's greed and irresponsibility that crippled our economy, leaving millions of workers behind.

After the house of cards they built collapsed, bankers and the financial industry took $700 billion in taxpayer funds for a bailout. But rather than reform their failed practices, they want to go back to business as usual--with the chance of again precipitating another financial collapse and need for taxpayer bailout in coming years.

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Tomorrow, Join Us for 'A Better Deal'

Tomorrow, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler will give the keynote address at the A Better Deal 2009 conference here in Washington, D.C.

The conference, which runs tomorrow and Friday, is hosted by Demos, an advocacy organization focused on building a fairer economy, and a variety of sponsor organizations focused on youth and the economy.

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Young America Wants Health Care Reform

As the AFL-CIO report, "Young Workers: A Lost Decade," recently found, some 31 percent of workers under age 35 have no health insurance--even if they have jobs. Millions more young workers have insufficient coverage. It's a dangerous situation, and too many young workers would be left bankrupt if hit by an accident or unexpected illness.

Ari A. Matusiak, founder of Young Invincibles, a health reform advocacy group, says in a new AFL-CIO Point of View guest column that these young workers need health care reform now, and that they need to join together to fight for it.

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