North Texas Jobs with Justice put the jobs crisis at the top of our priority list in October, 2009. There is no worker justice issue anywhere that is more critical. Our prediction that government would do virtually nothing about it until pressured by a gigantic mass movement has, unfortunately, proven to be true. Our Workers Rights Board agreed to shift their emphasis to the jobs crisis at a meeting at Southern Methodist University on November 20, 2009.
All of us agreed that the fight for unity on this issue will be difficult. Certain backward-thinking people, some even within our own labor movement, exacerbate divisions within our movement. We said that documented and undocumented workers will have to work together, not blame one another. The same is true of older and younger workers, men and women, and all races. Only a broad, united, and very large mass movement can force government action to resolve the jobs crisis. The same thing was true in the last crisis of these dimensions, in the 1930s.
Unemployed people are always invited to our activities, but we decided early on that the shock troops of the unemployed movement are not likely to be the unemployed themselves. They are too busy trying to find a job. Those of us who still have incomes will have to build this movement, at least for the time being. We decided to take advantage of historical precedent for government jobs programs. For example, we found out that Robert E Lee Park in Dallas had restored all their brass "WPA" markings, we held a press conference there. We are researching the Fort Worth, Texas, unemployed council of 1932, even though almost nothing is known about it except that its leader died of head wounds after a night in jail on Labor Day.
Since 2009, we have not been diverted. When we work on immigrants rights issues, we always note that everybody needs jobs. When we worked to get unemployment benefits for jobless workers, we also called for government jobs programs. When we worked, as almost the entire labor movement did, on saving the existing jobs of public workers, we coined the slogan, "Protect and extend public jobs!" All of our Workers Rights Board hearings and publicity work have focused on the jobs crisis.
We have used videos of our meetings, public rallies, pickets, press conferences, and leafleting activities to promote the unemployed/underemployed cause. We promote National Jobs with Justice's work on unemployment, and that of the labor movement.
We created our own leaflets and petitions, some of which are the genius-work of unemployed graphics artist Brad Walker. When we participate in other organization's public events, we inevitably bring in the jobs crisis. On our regular Monday morning (7 AM) radio talk show, we keep focused on the jobs crisis. Most of the people we interview speak on aspects of the jobs crisis.
On May 6, we joined the national movement for "First Friday" vigils when new unemployment statistics are released. As we get ready to staff our table at the Texas AFL-CIO convention in June, we are developing a survey on unemployment issues, a new Power Point presentation, and a new Speakers Bureau brochure promoting spokespersons from our Workers Rights Board.
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