In Virginia, North Carolina, President Obama touts jobs bill

Winding up a two-state tour this week, President Barack Obama stumped throughout North Carolina and Virginia, campaign-style, to rally support for the American Jobs Act.

Facing arcane Senate rules that requires a two-thirds vote to bring a bill to the floor, 47 Republicans joined with two Democrats to put the kibosh on any attempt to discuss the president’s plan, in a procedural vote Oct. 11.

According to independent economists, the American Jobs Act would create nearly two million jobs.

Current Senate strategy is to break up the bill and introduce it in parts. The first part, if passed, would assist state and local governments in hiring or keeping hundreds of thousands of teachers and thousands of firefighters employed.

At Fire Station 9 in North Chesterfield, Va., the president challenged the Republican so-called jobs plan.

“I sent Congress the American Jobs Act and then my Republican friends put out a plan of their own, and they started out calling it ‘the Real American Jobs Act.’  So they don’t get points for originality.”

The president outlined the primary ideas in the GOP plan: roll back regulations that keep air and water clean; go back to Wall Street’s pathetically broken system that led to the current economic crisis; end health care reform.

“Now, that is a plan, but it’s not a jobs plan,” he said.

The week before the president’s three-day tour to North Carolina and Virginia, unemployed workers, union members, students and religious and community groups joined for a nationwide week of action on jobs.

In North Carolina, the state AFL-CIO said its members responded to the call to act on behalf of the 99%, and organized protests demanding good jobs aimed at their members of Congress and state legislature.

At a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina AFL-CIO President James Andrews said Americans want politicians at every level of government focused on creating good jobs that pay better than poverty-level wages.

“Today’s press report tells a sad story about the increase in the poverty rate in North Carolina, highest rate since 1981. Without bold action on a jobs creation agenda, this sad trend will continue while the top 1% destroys the hopes and future of the rest of us,” he said.

On its website, the state labor federation showed its support for the Occupy movement, at the same time supporting the president’s jobs bill.

In a speech to Occupy Durham, Michael Gravinese, president of the Triangle Labor Council AFL-CIO, said labor is with the young people and the 99% movement.

“Labor is with you! We too are the 99 percent. We too want a more equitable society, ” he said.

We are “tired of the staggering wealth gap,” “sickened by the bailout of Wall Street and the foreclosures on Main Street” and “fed up with the corruption of our political processes by financial and business elites,” he said.

“What do we want? We want jobs, jobs, and more jobs,” he said, adding that the banks and corporations “do their part to create good jobs, stop foreclosures, and pay their fair share of taxes.”

The national AFL-CIO, along with others, is now mobilizing to get teachers and first responders back to work.

Tell your senators: Let’s get this done. It’s time to get America back to work, starting with our teachers, firefighters and police officers,” the union federation said in a recent email.

Photo: Light Up Raleigh displays luminaries representing North Carolina’s 1.2 million jobless and low-wage workers on Bicentennial Mall, Oct. 10. (North Carolina’s Union Movement




Teresa Albano
Teresa Albano

Teresa Albano was the first woman editor-in-chief of People’s World, 2003-2010, leading the transition from weekly print to daily online publishing and establishing PW’s social media presence. Albano had been a staff writer for People’s World covering political, labor, and social justice issues for more than 25 years. She traveled throughout the U.S. and abroad, including India, Cuba, Angola, Italy, and Paris to cover the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. An award-winning journalist, Albano has been honored for her writing by the International Labor Communications Association, National Federation of Press Women, and Illinois Woman Press Association.