Jobs Crisis Is Major Issue for Texas AFL-CIO Conference

Texas Labor Leaders

Secretary-Treasurer John Patrick, Linda Chavez-Thompson, and President Becky Moeller

Click for videos from the conference




The Texas AFL-CIO held its Committee on Political Education (COPE) meeting in Austin on February 6-7. Labor leaders from across the state gathered to discuss the issues and candidates leading up to the March 2 primary and the November general elections.

A number of North Texas Jobs with Justice activists and Steering Committee members participated. The delegates' package included a description of our work so far on the jobs crisis. It isn't just us, the big guns are clearly beginning to focus on the same problem. Mike Cavanaugh, an AFL-CIO national staffer, outlined the problem to the conference: “Unemployment is going to be sky high for the foreseeable future." He brought a big-screen presentation of the AFL-CIO’s five-point plan of government intervention into the problem. It begins with extension of unemployment benefits, then calls for the same kind of financial commitment that Congress has already devoted to bankers and big corporations.

Cavanaugh brought the message that such a plan would not happen without a gigantic labor-led fight that involved all segments of the population. He said that the AFL-CIO Executive Committee would be laying out specific plans at their next meeting toward the end of February. In his speech and in his workshop, the AFL-CIO man asked for input from all Texas unionists. Even though the 35 union leaders at the workshop "Jobs Jobs Jobs" were concerned, not many of them have started public actions yet.

In the workshop, Cavanaugh said, "It is a corporate agenda that has run our economy." "The labor movement is going to have to fight for these issues... Partnering with other people in the community." He made it clear that the AFL-CIO is not talking about giving more money to employers in hopes that they might hire workers at decent wages. He also said that unionists will need to put aside their ambitions for immediate gains from this project and, rather, focus on solving the crisis. He summarized, "It ought to be about making the people who created this mess to pay for cleaning it up."

Among the seven resolutions passed at the end of the conference, two were specifically about jobs. Resolution number one ended, “BE IT RESOLVED, that the Texas AFL-CIO calls for a national policy to remedy under-employment of youth. Youth employment is a key predictor of future success for the individual and the community, and directly correlates with youth violence and school dropout rates.”

Resolution number six called strongly for government action: “NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the delegates to the Texas AFL-CIO COPE Convention call on Congress to support the AFL-CIO program to return Americans to work; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the delegates endorse quick action on job creation -- which is not to be confused with blind subsidies to employers who do not follow through on job creation promises. America needs good jobs now.”

Texas labor is especially concerned about getting a big turnout in November because they are close to re-taking the Texas House where U.S. congressional districts will be re-districted. Texans expect to take at least three, but probably four, more seats in the U.S. Congress after the census figures are known.

Here are the union endorsements:

Governor: Bill White
Lt Gov: Linda Chavez-Thompson
Attorney General: Barbara Ann Radnofski
Agricultural Commissioner: Hank Gilbert
Railroad Commissioner: Jeff Weems
Texas Supreme Court, Place 3: Jim Sharp
Texas Supreme Court Place 5, Bill Moody
Texas Supreme Court Place 9, Blake Baily
Court of Criminal Appeals Place 6 Keith Hampton
Chair of Texas Democratic Party, Boyd Richie
They also recommended the local endorsements from the Central Labor Councils