Tuesday, June 15, 2010

North Carolina: Struggle Generates Jobs Resolution

By Vidya Sankar
Raleigh, N.C.
Published Jun 10, 2010 12:40 PM

On May 18 a resolution supporting a federal jobs program and opposing cuts to federal youth programs was passed by the Raleigh City Council.

Chants of “A job is right, we gotta fight fight fight!” and “Money for jobs and education, not for banks and incarceration!” greeted Raleigh City Council members at recent meetings. Two well-attended rallies at Raleigh City Council meetings on May 4 and May 18 were organized by the Raleigh Peoples’ Assembly.

At these rallies a multigenerational mass of youth, students, workers and community leaders spoke out resoundingly on the necessity of a public jobs program, and for the city of Raleigh to publicly advocate for and demand that such a jobs program be implemented as within the best interest of city residents.

A resolution underscoring these demands had been presented to the City Council. The resolution, in its original text, demanded that the city support and demand a public sector jobs program with the minimal size and shape of the Works Progress Administration, which created over 8 million jobs and was a form of real economic recovery during the Great Depression.

The resolution also demanded that the city oppose all funding cuts to federal youth summer programs, and support that job applications be reviewed with no emphasis on one’s criminal record. The resolution, drafted by leaders of the Peoples’ Assembly, also emphasized the need for youth after-school and summer programs and jobs, the currently unenforced Full Employment Act of 1978, and the dire need to relieve extreme understaffing in city departments by hiring more workers.

Community support included more than a thousand petition signatures supporting the resolution. Hundreds of groups and community leaders endorsed the resolution, and at the rallies themselves many passersby honked their cars’ horns and fist-pumped in support. Inside the meetings, community leaders and organizers spoke to the need for a public jobs program and how the additional jobs created could produce services which the city so desperately needs.

“Without jobs, we won’t have the funds to take care of our basic needs, which are shelter, clothes, food, and also being able to pay the bills that are going to come,” stated Juanette Williams, a student at Peace College. “If they’re (the city of Raleigh) not providing for or helping your residents, then they’re not carrying out what they’re preaching.”

The City Council voted unanimously May 18 to support two tenets of the jobs resolution: that Raleigh would willingly participate in any federal public jobs program implemented, and that it would oppose any cuts in federal funding to youth summer recreation and jobs programs.

“The support of such a resolution will have a ripple effect throughout the city. The vision for gaps to be narrowed between ‘the haves’ and the ‘have nots’ is in its initial stages. However, there is a need to see the fruits from this resolution. ... Lip service is not enough,” commented Larry Murry, a leader in Black Workers for Justice and the Peoples’ Assembly.

The Raleigh Peoples’ Assembly is comprised of groups including Black Workers for Justice; the People’s Empowerment Movement; Fight Imperialism, Stand Together; the Raleigh City Workers Union — UE 150; and various other organizations.
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