North Texas Jobs with Justice participated in the nationwide "First Friday" vigils against unemployment on June 3. Our group of 20 may seem few compared to the millions protesting economic deprivation around the world, but it was three times as many as we had last month, so we may be on a roll! We expect to carry out similar actions every First Friday until government takes serious action on the jobs crisis.
We gathered outside the downtown Dallas A. Maceo Smith Federal Building, which houses the Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
We leafleted passersby, some of whom work for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and held a short discussion beneath shade trees across the street. The speakers were Texas Fair Trade Coalition Director Bob Cash and Communications Workers Local 6215 Committeewoman Nancy Hall. Both of them urged everyone to oppose the three so-called "free trade agreements" that are expected to be brought to the U.S. Congress soon.
The leaflet from the Texas Fair Trade Coalition said that the Korea "free trade agreement" would result in another 159,000 lost jobs.
The Jobs with Justice leaflet is below:
A quick look at the June 3 figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm, shows a decrease in the number of new jobs created. The figures for April and March are also revised downward. The new "official" unemployment rate is up to 9.1%. The number of long-term unemployed increased by 361,000 to 6.2 million; their share of unemployment increased to 45.1.
Almost every measure of economic activity, most particularly the stock market, shows that we are in the "prosperity" phase of the regular business cycle. The outstanding exception is employment.
Productivity increased another 1.8% in the first quarter, 2011. The cumulative increase in productivity since 2007 is 9.4%, more than the unemployment rate. Leaving aside all other variables, employers could theoretically have reduced unemployment below zero since 2007. Instead, they squeezed more production out of the workers who still have jobs.
More so-called "free trade bills," which make the government complicit in the outsourcing of jobs, are coming up. The "JOBS bill" in the U.S. House would take federal subsidies away from unemployment insurance benefits! State legislatures, including Texas, are passing laws that will put tens of thousands of teachers and other public employees on the street. At the same time, they are moving to cut unemployment benefits and other necessary services.
Corporate profits and government handouts to the wealthiest few have continued throughout the jobs crisis. Their public laments are crocodile tears.
--Gene Lantz, Organizer, North Texas Jobs with Justice, www.labordallas.org
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