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AFL-CIO Convenes Their Own Job Summit

The White House may be holding one on December 3, but at this hour, the AFL-CIO is holding an event at the Economic Policy Institute, unveiling a five-point plan for creating jobs in America.

Richard Trumka, in his remarks today, acknowledged that the Recovery Act has saved or created close to a million jobs, but that we continue to be around 10 million jobs in the hole, given the 8 million lost and the 2 million needed annually to gain to keep up with population growth. Trumka claims that the AFL-CIO five-point plan will create and save 2 million within a year.

1. Extend unemployment insurance, additional food assistance and participation in paying for COBRA benefits for 12 months.

2. Investing in infrastructure. No price tag is put on this, but Trumka did say that “America still has at least $3 trillion in unmet infrastructure needs” and that the $10 billion cut from the stimulus package that would have fixed schools should be restored. So this would be the infrastructure and green jobs plank. Bob Herbert talked infrastructure in the NYT today.

3. Increase aid to state and local governments. Lest the states resort back to being territories, the federal government needs to supply them with aid. As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities said yesterday, this could save 900,000 jobs alone.

4. “Fund jobs in our communities.” This seems to be an investment in non-infrastructure public works jobs, like child care, tutoring, maintenance, etc. Distressed communities which have shortages in these jobs would be targeted.

5. Use leftover TARP funds, give them to community banks to lend to small businesses. This was something brought up by the Obama Administration a few weeks ago, but more recently they’ve considered using that TARP money for deficit reduction.

Trumka stressed that this jobs program would be needed in addition to the long-term policies to transform the economy that the AFL-CIO has been supporting since the beginning of Obama’s term:

Of course, while we work on creating two million jobs right now, we can’t lose sight of the big picture. We know that we also need to keep working on deeper reform measures to ensure that we are rebuilding our economy on a solid foundation – we need the Employee Free Choice Act to guarantee workers the freedom to choose a union; we need financial reform to rein in the excesses of Wall Street; and we need to fix our flawed trade policies to make America competitive again and reduce our enormous trade deficits.

Trumka stressed the extreme difficulties in the Hispanic and African-American communities, where unemployment is much higher. Both Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP; and Janet Murguía, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, spoke at the kickoff event. Jealous mentioned that it’s more difficult for an African-American with no criminal record to get a job than a white man with a criminal record. And Murguía noted that Hispanics have the highest rate of underemployment in the country, and that most Hispanics see no sign of the Recovery Act impacting their communities.

There’s more in The New York Times.

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David Dayen

David Dayen