President Barack Obama recently proposed the American Jobs Act as a remedy to end the most devastating unemployment our nation has experienced since the Great Depression.
I have an idea on how to help.
In consultation with our financial advisors, union pension funds are routinely invested in various projects and bonds that will protect those funds, and enable them to grow. Often, those projects involve other states and nations. But here’s my thought: Let’s invest in America.
Some will see this as merely a “PR” smoke screen to counter critics of unions who say pensions, especially public employee pensions, are the cause of our nation’s economic crisis. But they are not. What the union-bashers forget is that we’re Americans too. We pay taxes and are struggling to do more with less, just like everyone else. We didn’t cause this mess we’re in!
The recent Census shows that poverty in the nation is at an all time high of 15 percent. And in New York, poverty is even higher, at 16 percent — marking the worst it has been since 1998. Experts warn that we run the risk of creating a new “underclass.” Clearly, we’ve got to do something to help ourselves and we’ve got to do it now!
I want to work with the president of New York State’s AFL-CIO, Denis Hughes, and my other colleagues in labor to identify different investment projects that will safeguard the money of pensioners as well as create jobs for New Yorkers.
This initiative will bring the labor movement back to its roots. Labor unions helped to build our nation’s middle class. We helped to make the “American Dream” come true. Sadly, some people have forgotten this. They only see the economic nightmare we all share.
This pension investment plan would revive the “American Dream” for our children and rebuild the middle class through investments in America by Americans and for Americans.
By Gregory Floyd, President of City Employees Union Local 237 International Brotherhood of Teamsters