CFL News
October 07, 2011

AFL-CIO President talks jobs, social justice in Chicago

“America does not have a debt crisis, it has a jobs crisis,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka at an address sponsored by the Chicago Federation of Labor and the Chicago Kent College of Law’s Institute for Law and the Workplace. 

Richard Trumka speaks in ChicagoSpeaking before a group of several hundred union leaders in Chicago’s, labor law  professionals, elected leaders and law students in the West Loop, the head of the 12 million member labor federation made a strong case for rebuilding the American middle class through investment, sensible trade and tax policies and a focus on social justice. 

Having worked through college and law school in the Pennsylvania coal mines before rising through the ranks of the United Mine Workers and eventually the AFL-CIO, Trumka described the decline in wages, jobs in manufacturing and other sectors, middle class families and union density during the last sixty years.  During that same period, the wealthiest Americans have grown richer and the income gap between rich and poor larger than ever.  “The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer and the middle class is on life support,” said Trumka.

Saying President Barack Obama’s jobs bill puts America on the right path, he offered six additional ways Congress should act to put America back to work:

  1. Rebuild America’s schools and transportation and energy systems
  2. Revive U.S. manufacturing and stop exporting good jobs overseas
  3. Put people to work doing work that needs to be done in local communities
  4. Help federal, state, and local governments avoid more layoffs and cutbacks of public services
  5. Help fill the massive shortfall of consumer demand by extending unemployment benefits and keeping homeowners in their homes
  6. Reform Wall Street so that it helps Main Street create jobs

Less than a mile away from the event, demonstrators from “Occupy Chicago” were holding a constant vigil in the financial district in solidarity with “Occupy Wall Street” and other demonstrations across the country.  Trumka, who said the fight for the labor movement is a fight for social justice, said the protestors are standing up for things many of Americans believe.