WASHINGTON - As President Obama stood in the Rose Garden and said "government can't create jobs," unemployed workers at a congressional forum shared their personal stories of economic pain and launched the One Million Jobs online campaign. At the "Putting America Back to Work: Direct Job Creation in Local Communities" forum seven ordinary people from around the country offered compelling testimony on why the Local Jobs for America Act (HR 4812) is the missing piece that could put significant numbers of people back to work through direct job creation.
"We are starting to see things turn around on Wall Street but not on the main streets of our municipalities in this country," said Mayor Laurent Gilbert of Lewiston, Maine. "Two weeks ago, we had to make the decision to cut 21.5 positions, including firefighters, police officers and city workers from a staff of 345. We'll continue to have to make such difficult choices if we can't do something to create jobs now."
In testimony after testimony, ordinary people, from a recent college graduate to a soon to be laid off certified nursing assistant, challenged the status quo of Washington and spoke passionately about the need for direct job creation for their communities. Nearly one hundred other workers, most unemployed, shouted and clapped in support while wearing "I Need a Job" T-shirts.
"I always assumed that working in the health care field would guarantee me job security, but no one is safe anymore," said Certified Nursing Assistant Mandy Alvar of Eau Claire, Wisc., who will be laid off this summer. "When we start eliminating or cutting this segment of the workforce it never just affects the person being terminated, it has a ripple effect to so many others. The Local Jobs for America Act could rebuild what has been broken and help to reinvest in our communities by restoring jobs back to those who provide life-sustaining services for others."
The Local Jobs for America Act introduced by Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) of the House Education and Labor Committee would create or preserve one million jobs. The One Million Jobs campaign is a grassroots online effort to send mock job applications to Congress in support of the Local Jobs for America Act.
Present at the forum where several members of Congress, including Congressional Black Caucus Chair Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Rep. Lynn Woolsey co-chair, Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.), Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) and Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.), Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Penn.). The forum was co-sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and the Jobs Task force of the Democratic Caucus.
The forum is one of several activities scheduled for before and during Memorial Day recess highlighting the need for direct job creation. USAction and other partners of Jobs for America Now are holding a "Week of Action" this week that will frame the public debate about economic justice, highlighting the need for jobs, tax reform and aid to the states. Next week, other local organizations will hold jobless fairs and other events in support of direct job creation.