Misc. Mondays: Middle Class Task Force Update

More than half of all Americans – about 160 million – think of themselves as middle class according to a 2008 Pew survey.  However, Washington, especially the White House, view only one tenth of those people as middle class.  Specifically, only the 16 million union workers are considered by our Federal government to be in the middle class.

VP Biden was in Philadelphia a few weeks ago holding his first Middle Class Task Force town meeting – next up is Minnesote, home of anti-union Target.  According to an editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer, it is “apparent that the administration’s policies are not friendly to most of the middle class.”  For back up, the author cited Obama’s Executive Order that repealed the right for employees to know whether labor officials use their dues to support political candidates and the Order that encourages project labor agreements for union construction workers, including for construction as a result of the stimulus plan effectively eliminating 85% of the construction workforce.  Most striking, though, according to the author, is the “green jobs” legislative language “being touted on Capitol Hill is little more than union giveaways in a shiny new wrapper.”  I couldn’t agree more.

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Unions Jump on Green Jobs Bandwagon

We all know that green jobs are the wave of the future, and every municipality, village, town, city, state, and federal government are looking at ways to create green jobs – jobs that will help (or at least don’t hurt too badly) the environment.  Every politician ran on a platform that green jobs are necessary.  Most politicians ran on the theory that green jobs cannot be outsourced.  With all of this common knowledge that green jobs are coming to your neighborhood, it’s only logical that unions try to corner the market in green job initiatives. 

Last week the Green Jobs, Good Jobs “national conference” was held in Washington D.C., and it wasn’t well advertised who the sponsors and speakers were.  Every union under the sun sponsored the conference along with heavily unionized companies like Alcoa Steel and the now bankrupt Smurfit Stone.  The speakers included among a few others: the secretary/treasurer of the AFL-CIO, president of the United Steelworkers, president of Communications Workers of America, president of the Teamsters, president of the Laborers union.

The AFL-CIO also announced its Center for Green Jobs which is to, “help out labor unions implement real green jobs initiatives – initiatives that retain and create good union jobs, provide pathways to those jobs and assist with the design and implementation of training programs to prepare incumbent workers as well as job seekers for these family-sustaining careers.”  The SEIU likewise tried to capitalize on its presence at the conference and said it can create 2 million jobs and reduce unemployment to 4.4 percent in the next 2 years because of green jobs.  Overall, the conference organizers say the goal is to develop a “New Green Deal.”  This, of course, on top of the other neo-New Deal programs and initiatives that Obama has already started.

If the theory behind creating green jobs is to better the environment and the health of people everywhere, the public will buy into those initiatives.  If the theory behind creating green jobs is only to create “green union jobs” and implement a union-friendly “New Green Deal,” then the public will not support those initiatives.  It’s no wonder why this “national conference” really wasn’t advertised well and had mostly only union leaders speaking at it.  It wasn’t to better the economy or the earth; it was to get a jump start in figuring out how to organize the impending green jobs and divide up the turf of which union can go after organizing which jobs so as to diminish public relation nightmares in the future.