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Posted by zeakster on January 17, 2010

Anna Burger: We Need Bold Action on Jobs
January 14, 2010
By Anna Burger, Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union. This blog post was submitted as part of the Democratic Issues Conference and Job Summit and cross-posted on the SEIU Blog.

Almost a year ago on a cold January morning, America ushered in a new era with the historic swearing in of our 44th president, Barack Obama. President Obama knew the challenges facing our nation, and he intimately understood the root causes of them. As he stated in his inaugural address, our economic crisis was brought on by “greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.”

President Obama promised quick action to correct our nation’s course – and he delivered. With the help of Congressional Democrats, just weeks later, a new course for the nation’s future began with the February 17, 2009 signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The hardworking 2.2 million members of the Service Employees International Union and their families know that the Recovery Act worked, and is working, to create and save jobs across the country. In Iowa, recovery money helped the Cedar Rapids Community School District keep members on the job. In New York, a nearly $3 million grant to the SEIU 32BJ Thomas Shortman Training Fund will expand green buildings training to more than 2,000 building superintendents. In California, the Recovery Act has provided critical funding to protect the healthcare safety net during the economic downturn.

But while the recovery program has succeeded in stabilizing our economy, we are a long way from the kind of sustained recovery we need to replace the 8.1 million jobs we’ve lost since the recession began. If we are going to come out of this crisis stronger and better prepared for the challenges of a 21st century economy, we need an intensive, 24/7 focus on job creation until we emerge from the deep hole left by the previous Administration.

Creating jobs isn’t rocket science. But it requires political will, courage and determination to make it happen. Half measures won’t do – the problems we face are simply too big for small solutions. What’s needed is bold action to put America back to work and to begin to restore the middle class.

We believe there are five critical steps that will put America back on track towards creating jobs and restoring the American Dream.

1.We must expand fiscal relief to state and local governments to save an estimated 900,000 jobs, as well as the vital services these workers provide to our communities.

2.We need a public jobs program that targets some of the fastest-growing sectors of our economy – human services such as child care, in-home services for the elderly and disabled, and other services our communities need. This will create jobs in the public and private sectors and ensure our communities are healthy, educated and well-cared for.

3.We need to invest in green jobs that will promote energy-efficiency and create whole new industries based on renewable energy. In the short term, we should focus on retrofitting homes and commercial buildings to make them more energy-efficient, which will put Americans to work right away. The jobs we create today will lay the groundwork for the industries of tomorrow.

4.Investments in aging infrastructure – rebuilding our schools, roads and bridges – and building the next generation of high speed rail, public transit and efficient energy grids – will put millions more to work. An Infrastructure Bank can foster public/private partnerships in developing regional and large scale projects critical for a 21st century economy.

5.Expanding and modernizing our workforce training programs will be critical to reshaping our economy. Preparing workers for new and rapidly growing industries is essential if America is going to be able to compete globally.
We can do this – but only with real focus and leadership that calls on everyone to do their part.

And only if we get to work today.


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