Workers need an economic stimulus package

Workers need an economic stimulus package


As the American economy reels from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, the Teamsters Union has lobbied aggressively for federal assistance to working families, who are bearing the brunt of the business downturn.

The horrifying events of Sept. 11 only accelerated an economic downturn that was evident in July and August, and only a targeted infusion of federal money will ease the pain of American workers.

New claims for unemployment insurance benefits reported this month jumped 15.5 percent to 528,000. Not surprisingly, the economy in September had its biggest one-month drop in jobs in more than a decade. In addition, manufacturing capacity use in August hit its lowest point since 1982.

“We can expect bad news on the unemployment front in the months to come as the economy slides deeper into this downturn,” said Larry Mishel, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a Washington nonpartisan think tank. “Right now, we have an economy sputtering in neutral with consumers who aren’t buying and businesses that won’t invest because there’s no consumer demand. That means it’s up to the government to get things moving again by investing in people and projects that will put money into motion again.”

The Teamsters Union has been lobbying Congress to take a number of steps to ease the burden on working families hit by the economic downturn, including relief for workers in the crippled commercial airline industry, an increase in the federal minimum wage, adoption of a comprehensive energy policy and rejection of trade agreements that do not protect worker rights.

In addition, the union is working with other labor groups, including the AFL-CIO, to devise a package of proposals to protect workers and stimulate the economy. These include expanding economic relief beyond the airlines; helping laid-off workers continue their health care coverage; assisting uninsured workers to obtain coverage; and making major capital improvements to the nation’s transportation infrastructure and security, including highways, rail and mass transit sectors.

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