Thursday, July 23, 2009

Detroiters Tell President Obama: 'We Need Jobs'

Detroiters tell President: ‘We need jobs’

By Kris Hamel
Published Jul 22, 2009 2:29 PM

Advocates for a moratorium on foreclosures, evictions and utility shutoffs joined environmentalists and supporters of single-payer health care on July 14 when President Barack Obama visited metro Detroit. Obama gave a speech at Macomb Community College in Warren, where he announced an initiative to increase student financial aid and funding for community colleges. Salaried auto workers were also there with a message to the president to save their pensions.

In his speech, Obama praised Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and her “No Worker Left Behind” program that provides funds for unemployed workers to further their education. Organizers with the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions and the People’s Summit Coalition point out that Michigan’s official 15.2 percent unemployment rate belies any optimism that workers are getting back to work.

More than 310,000 jobs have been lost in the state so far in 2009. According to the Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics Michigan Forecast, published July 2 by the University of Michigan, “the 10-year downturn between mid-2000 and the summer of 2010 is forecast to cost the state 950,000 jobs, 20 percent of its workforce.” (

The People’s Summit Coalition distributed a “People’s Bill of Rights for Economic and Social Justice” to the crowd entering to hear Obama’s speech. This draft document states: “The economic crisis has drastically impacted the working class and the poor, increasing the official ranks of unemployed workers to over 12 million, almost one in 10, not counting those who can only find part-time jobs or who have given up looking for a job altogether because there are none.

“The unemployment crisis along with record home foreclosures, 50 million people with no health care insurance, and severe state and local budget cuts, is a matter of life and death for millions of people. We are in a state of emergency! The federal government must take responsibility and declare a State of Economic Emergency and implement immediate steps to relieve the mass suffering.”

The People’s Bill of Rights calls for a massive federal program to provide jobs or income for all at livable wages; an immediate moratorium on all layoffs, plant closings, pension thefts and union busting; and the reopening of closed plants and putting workers back to work. For more information, visit
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