"Show Us the Jobs" Part 4
"Show Us the Jobs" Part 4
Date: Monday, March 22, 2004 4:01 PM
JOB DESTRUCTION NEWSLETTER
The bus tour will feature participants from a wide variety of careers
that are being affected by insourcing and outsourcing. Hopefully this
tour will help to unite Americans workers who tend to ignore the plight
of anyone but themselves. Corporations have sucessfully used divide and
conquer strategies to overcome the objections to the importation of
foreign workers (insourcing) and the outsourcing of American jobs.
Could this be the beginning of a new labor movement to save all of our
Labor Bus Tour Highlights Unemployment
By LEIGH STROPE
WASHINGTON - Laid-off workers, students, a priest and creators of
anti-offshoring Web sites are among the 51 people taking a bus tour
through Rust Belt states this week to talk about job struggles,
countering similar trips by the Bush administration to promote a
Every state and Washington, D.C., will have a representative riding the
red, white and blue flag-covered buses on the "Show Us the Jobs" tour
organized by the AFL-CIO and Working America, an activist affiliate of
the labor federation.
"I think we need to get the word out there that the economy is not as
rosy as people are saying," said Kevin Gregory, 41, of Millinocket,
Maine, who was laid off in January 2003 from the Great Northern Paper
Mill after 17 years.
He and his family now depend regularly on food banks. "I've had to
swallow my pride and get help," said Gregory.
The trip is also about politics, with stops planned in Missouri, Iowa,
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia _
battleground states that could determine who wins the White House in
The labor tour follows two bus trips by President Bush's Cabinet
secretaries to promote the administration's economic policies. In
February, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao
and Treasury Secretary John Snow embarked on a "Jobs and Growth Tour"
to Oregon and Washington _ both of which Bush narrowly lost to Al Gore
in 2000. Last summer, they traveled to Wisconsin and Minnesota.
"No amount of partisan political rhetoric can contradict the fact that
this economy is growing stronger every day," Labor Department spokesman
Ed Frank said of labor's bus tour.
New claims for unemployment insurance are at the lowest level since
January 2001, and the nation's 5.6 percent jobless rate, down from a
high of 6.3 percent in June 2003, is below those of economic recoveries
in previous decades, he said.
Polls consistently find the economy and jobs are the most important
issues to voters, and Democrat John Kerry is considered better
qualified to fix things than Bush.
The economy is growing, but new jobs aren't being created. In fact,
more than 2.2 million jobs have been lost since Bush took office in
January 2001. Organized labor, which is spending millions to get Kerry
elected, wants to hammer that home to voters. Some tour events, for
example, will be held at foreclosed homes and empty factories.
"The real focus is on the fact that America has a jobs crisis," said
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. "We think that we're on the wrong track
when it comes to jobs, and the question is, can we turn it around?"
Michigan's tour representative, Laura Tropea, 26, moved home after
graduating from law school in New York in June and failing to find a
job. She lives with her mother in South Lyon while working at a deli
part-time, earning $8 an hour despite having passed the Michigan bar
Growing up in a family of auto workers, Tropea said she and her friends
were encouraged to go to college and strive for better-paying,
"It's not happening," she said. "It's not happening for us. It's not
happening for them. If you can't get skilled trade jobs and you can't
get white-collar jobs, where do you turn?"
After seeing friends suffer from unemployment, Dawn Teo, 33, of Mesa,
Ariz., launched a Web site last year to educate Americans about the
impact of cheap foreign labor here and abroad. A group, Rescue American
Teo knows the issue first-hand. Her husband, a Chinese-Singaporean
immigrant, witnessed and experienced job exploitation by companies in
the United States.
"There are millions of people out there who are unemployed and millions
more who are underemployed," Teo said. "There are people who retrained
from manufacturing to technology because they lost their jobs. Now
what? There's nothing left to retrain for. No job is safe."
Representing Oklahoma is a retired Roman Catholic priest, John Vrana,
73, of Oklahoma City. After reading the biographies of participants on
the bus tour, Vrana said he was touched by the difficulties they're
"They're hurting. They're hurting very badly," he said. "I think it
will raise the consciousness of people. I think we read the statistics
a lot, but we need to hear their stories."
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