AFL-CIO Executive Council Calls for Round 2 of Economic Recovery

July 29, 2009

By Mike Hall
July 29, 2009

The nation’s working families and the economy desperately need a second installment on the Obama administration’s economic recovery plan. That plan, says the AFL-CIO Executive Council,

must focus like a laser beam on job creation.

Along with approving an economic policy statement outlining the urgent need for more economic recovery initiatives, the council, convening for a one-day meeting yesterday in Washington, D.C., also welcomed two new members, Letter Carriers (NALC) President Fredric Rolando and AFGE Vice President Rogelio Flores.

The council honored former council members William Young, who recently retired as NALC president, and AFGE Vice President Andrea Brooks, who died in April. To help support the work of the Alliance for Retired Americans, the council proposed the creation of the Preserving Union Values Charitable Foundation.

Although the first round of economic stimulus has made huge strides is shoring up our economy, the council pointed out in its statement that the Bush administration’s economic legacy created such “economic devastation—in finance, housing and jobs,” that

The challenge of fixing this economic mess is enormous—and urgent. Creating good jobs that cannot be outsourced is central to the solution.

Unemployment is expected to hit 10 percent later this year and remain high in 2010. So far 6.6 million jobs have disappeared since the beginning of the recession in 2007, including 1.9 million manufacturing jobs and 1.3 million construction jobs. For those with jobs, wages are stagnant or shrinking and many workers face forced furloughs. As the council statement says:

It is crystal clear that urgent action from the federal government is needed to boost economic growth and jobs, and invest in America’s future.

Among other investments, a second recovery plan should:

  • Extend unemployment benefits immediately, by at least seven weeks, to help the hundreds of thousands of workers who would otherwise exhaust their benefits in the near term.
  • Increase food stamp spending as needed to help families cope with the downturn.
  • Increase aid to state and local governments.
  • Bolster the financial stability of independent government agencies such as the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Increase spending for needed infrastructure and clean energy projects, even for those projects with a time horizon longer than two years.

Click here to read the full statement.

New council member Rolando served as the union’s executive vice president before taking over from Young, who retired earlier this month. In its statement honoring Young’s service, the council says Young, who became NALC president in 2002, took the reins at a time when

the NALC—and the entire union movement—were fighting hard to resist a viciously anti-union White House and Congress….Young is widely recognized as a leader not only of the NALC but of the entire union movement.

Flores joined AFGE in 1968 and held various local and district offices until he was elected as a national vice president in 1996. He takes over the council seat that Brooks occupied from 2005 until her death in April.

Brooks began her union career at Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, rising through the ranks of AFGE while working at the Department of Veterans Affairs. She served for 10 years as president of AFGE Local 490 at the Veterans Affairs regional office in Los Angeles; She was also vice president of the California Labor Federation.

In 2000, she was elected as AFGE’s vice president for women and fair practices in 2000. In its statement, the council says:

Brooks’ name became a synonym for the good causes she believed in and fought for: civil rights, human rights, women’s rights. She declared that she wanted to help mobilize a civil rights movement of every race, culture, orientation and gender identity. She did exactly that…we honor the legacy of more justice and fairness and equality she left behind for us.

In the statement proposing the new charitable foundation, the council says many union workers are concerned that their children and grandchildren may not be able to experience and “cherish the richness of a life of involvement with the labor movement.”

The Preserving Union Values Charitable Foundation would allow active and retired union members to make tax-exempt contributions for

the purpose of preserving and carrying forward the proud heritage of the union movement. We believe many people associated with the labor movement would choose to leave a legacy in this way if given the opportunity….The proposed charitable foundation would ensure that current and future generations of Americans have an opportunity to benefit from the values that made the labor movement a defining force in American history.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney has agreed to head the proposed foundation following his upcoming retirement. Funds raised would be split between the National Labor College (NLC) and the Alliance, which, says the council statement, “has consistently excelled with the quality and effectiveness of its field work.”


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