OccupyPDX Sets April 15 Session for Long-Term Unemployed
A job-finding meeting for the long-term unemployeds in Multnomah's East County and Clackamas county by Occupy Portland's Labor Solidarity committee has been set for Sunday afternoon, April 15. It will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. at SEIU Local 503's headquarters, 64th and SE Holgate boulevard. The purpose is to organize this sector of the unemployed into obtaining public-works jobs in the Greater Portland area and Oregon either by learning how to lobbying city and state officials as a group and/or by starting a Labor party advocating public-works jobs.
A job-finding meeting for the long-term unemployeds in Multnomah's East County and Clackamas county by Occupy Portland's Labor Solidarity committee has been set for Sunday afternoon, April 15. It will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. at SEIU Local 503's headquarters, 64th and SE Holgate boulevard.
The purpose is to organize this sector of the unemployed into obtaining public-works jobs in the Greater Portland area and Oregon either by learning how to lobbying city and state officials as a group and/or by starting a Labor party advocating public-works jobs.
Among the speakers will be Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian as keynoter; Mary Botkin, political coordinator for Council 75 of Oregon's AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees), on lobbying; Dan Meek, co-chair of the Independent Party of Oregon, on how to start a party; and Barbara G. Ellis, journalist/historian, on the WPA (Works Progress Administration) and Minnesota's Farmer-Labor party of the Great Depression era.
Salon magazine, an influential online publication, recently quoted Oregon's Angus McGuire, communications director of SEIU Local 49, 503's We Are Oregon community program to help East County's unemployed. He saw "parallels with the Great Depression when unemployed councils were pivotal to securing relief and jobs programs as well as eviction defense on a mind-boggling scale." New York City councils quashed 77,000 evictions. He indicated WAO polling of East County residents indicated a great "opportunity in organizing the unemployed."
Though other sources list 5,500,000 as long-term unemployed, January figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics put 1,100,000 people in the category of long-term unemployment (27+ months) which they call "discouraged workers." Of that total, 638,000 are men, 421,000 are women, an overall increase of 6.6% over the previous month.
Oregon's January statistics list 15,900 long-term unemployed, according to the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis. It noted that Oregon's lower unemployment rate (8.9%) wasn't "so much due to improving labor market conditions, but rather due to people giving up looking for work who are no longer counted among the unemployed."
The Oregon Employment Department's research division reported that the state's overall unemployment statistics for January averaged 9.9%, but seven counties were at 12.0% to 14.6%: Crook, Douglas, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Lake, and Malheur. Crook county had the highest number of unemployeds (14.6%), Clackamas and Multnomah counties ranged from 8.0% to 9.9%.
Today's political conditions mirror those of the Great Depression in which President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration in May 1935 by Executive Order. Within seven months, 3,541,000 were on the WPA payroll. Jobs ranged from infrastructure repair and construction to flood-control projects, building and staffing thousands of schools, hospitals, and park systems. Today's additional possibility is in environmental areas.
TIME magazine noted in early February that the long-term unemployed were at least 43% of the latest statistics (12,800,000) and predicted that these "invisibles" will determine not just the economy and stock market, but the November elections for president, Congress, and state offices. Its business columnist noted: "The November elections will likely be decided by swing states that have lots of underemployed and discouraged workers" such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Nevada.
In Oregon, if those nearly 16,000 long-term unemployeds—as well as families and friends—take political action to obtain public-works jobs prior to the November elections, they can make a significant and positive change to the state's unemployment situation.
CONTACT: Semir Said, 503-803-6038
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