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A Just Economy For All
The well-being of our nation and democracy depends on a radical readjustment of America’s economic priorities. Government has a responsibility to restructure the economy to benefit all people, not just the wealthy few. It must protect us from damaging impacts of economic downturns, corporate crime, overwork, discrimination, exploitation, and ecological destruction. Providing education, training, employment, and a dignified and healthy retirement is the responsibility of our government.
Working people bear the brunt of the current economic disaster. U.S. unemployment hovers around ten percent for the first time in a generation, with millions more uncounted because they have given up finding work or are incarcerated in America's prisons. In some urban communities minority unemployment approaches fifty percent.
As union membership shrinks, the disparity of wealth between the rich and working people becomes ever greater. Young workers are the first in our nation’s history to experience a lower standard of living than their parents. Nearly one-third of U.S. workers are now “contingent,” employed on a part-time, temporary, or contractual basis. Job cuts continue to fall hardest on those in full-time permanent jobs, as employers look to ditch these workers in favor of newer and lower-paid replacements. Important benefits have been decimated. Fifty-two million people now lack health insurance. Many of the uninsured are employed, but are unable to afford the crushing cost of health insurance. One employer after another is eliminating defined-benefit pensions.
In the last decade, billions of dollars of Bush-era tax cuts were lavished on big business and wealthy individuals. When the economy crashed in 2008, the Bush administration bailed out Wall Street, but offered nothing to working-class Americans. The Obama Administration’s stimulus plan demonstrated an attempt to intervene in the economy in meaningful ways by keeping state and local governments afloat, extending unemployment benefits, increasing the budget for Medicaid, and rebuilding parts of the country’s crumbling infrastructure. However, it was not enough. While Wall Street and corporate CEOs are making record profits, the American people are experiencing a “jobless recovery,” with five or more job-seekers for every available opening. Far too much of the stimulus money went into the pockets of business interests and failed to reach working families, save and create jobs, keep families in their homes, restore American manufacturing, or fundamentally restructure the economy so workers can afford to purchase the goods and services their labor produces.
Corporations and wealthy individuals continue to find ways to pay less in taxes. In 2010 GE, the largest manufacturing employer in the country, made $5.1 billion dollars in U.S. profits, paid nothing in taxes, and received a $3.2 million “tax benefit.” This story is repeating itself throughout the country as state governors sell out working people to make their state more attractive to big business. Tax loopholes must end, and all taxpayers must pay their fair share to stabilize the nation’s economy.
While it is unrealistic to expect a system that benefits everyone equally tomorrow, a better and more equitable economy is desperately needed immediately.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS 72nd UE CONVENTION:
- Demands a second federal economic stimulus bill that will restore good jobs, ensure a social safety net for working people, and make long term investments in American infrastructure, including concerted development of truly “green” jobs, and provide emergency aid to states, local governments, schools and public colleges and universities whose budgets have been strangled by the economic crisis;
- Calls on locals to engage in militant resistance to plant closings, layoffs, overwork, two-tier schemes, and other concessions, and to stand in solidarity with other unions engaged in similar struggles;
- Demands that Congress restore full and fair employment to its rightful place at the top of federal priorities, and cease using unemployment benefits as a bargaining chip to demonize workers and artificially lay blame for the economic crisis at the feet of working people;
- Demands that Congress, along with state and local governments, reform the tax system by restoring higher tax rates for the wealthy and corporations and reducing the tax rate of working-class Americans;
- Demands that Congress break the grip of Wall Street by declaring a moratorium on home foreclosures for working families, taxing economic speculation, breaking banks that are “too big to fail” and trusts, enacting comprehensive regulations, and reducing corporations’ political power;
- Calls on locals and regions to participate in the broad campaign for new federal tax and spending priorities by joining and assisting groups and coalitions such as the Citizens’ Budget Campaign and United for a Fair Economy;
- Calls on locals to participate in the campaign for “people first” economic development policy by joining community development organizations such as Good Jobs First and Jobs with Justice, participating in activities like the Vermont Worker’s Center, and to interject a pro-worker perspective in local economic development initiatives thereby bringing workers and the community into a truly participatory decision-making process;
- Calls on locals to support and participate in organizations which analyze the economy from a workers’ perspective, such as the Economic Policy Institute and the Iowa Policy Project, and to share that information with elected leaders in order to counteract the rhetoric of anti-worker economists;
- Demands that Congress apply ecological principles to the economic policies that allow response to change in healthy ways, encourage cooperation among economic and ecological stakeholders, recognize natural resource limits, urge fair trade with the earth, and require states and corporations to take responsibility for the ecological implications of their actions.