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Making America work for the working poor

by : John Edwards and John Wilhelm
Sunday February 19, 2006 - 03:45
6 comments

By John Edwards and John Wilhelm

IT USED TO BE that poverty was invisible in America. When Michael Harrington published ’’The Other America" in 1960, he wrote about the unseen millions living in inner-city housing projects, in Appalachia, in rural America. The poor were stuck in isolated ghettos, dying towns, and industries that Harrington called the economic underworld of American life. As the rest of the country went to work and prospered, the poor were bypassed.

Our nation launched a war on poverty in the 1960s and 1970s that helped move millions of Americans out of poverty and into the middle class. While we were able to make some important progress, we still have much work to do. We saw just how pervasive poverty is when we saw the images of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on our television sets.

One of the great disgraces of our country is that a vast new impoverished population has developed in our midst. These are the Americans who work — in fact, they labor at the heart of the industries that drive our economy — yet they still are unable to make ends meet, even as they work at two or three jobs.

Thirty million American workers, 1 out of every 4, make less than $8.70 an hour. These workers, even the ones who work full time year-round, do not earn enough to lift a family of four out of poverty. While whole industries are exporting high-wage jobs to other nations, American workers have been left with jobs that don’t pay enough to cover their rent, healthcare, or school books for their children. In this global economy, the service industry jobs that are staying here are not the jobs with the best pay and benefits.

This is both a shame and a challenge — a shame because America has always honored the ethic of hard work — yet millions of Americans are struggling at two or three jobs and still finding the middle class out of reach. It’s a challenge because we have a moral responsibility to help those who are doing everything they can to get by, but are still stuck at jobs with poverty wages. The fact that powerful corporations make huge profits by keeping wages low does not reduce our moral obligation to help the working poor. In fact, it adds to our obligation.

Consider the hotel industry, which employs more than 1.3 million people in this country. The consulting firm Ernst & Young, in its outlook on the hotel and lodging industry, says: ’’The Good Times Continue to Roll." But good times for whom? Profits have risen to pre-9/11 levels, yet the average wage for a housekeeper is below the poverty line. Hotel chains are finding the money to invest in their image, their grounds, and their rooms, while wages for hotel workers remain far too low. Hotel chains are investing more in imported cotton sheets, yet relatively less in wages for workers.

Hotel workers all across this country believe in the American ethic based on the principle that hard work can lead to a better future. They do not lack motivation, dedication, or skill. What they lack is power. About 90,000 workers in the hotel industry are represented by the union UNITE HERE. In such cities as New York and San Francisco, where UNITE HERE has made significant progress on behalf of workers, wages are significantly higher than in cities where most workers do not belong to a union.

Hotel workers who belong to unions have been able to save money, buy homes, and give their children more opportunities. Imagine what it would mean for such cities and towns as Boston, Lynn, and Framingham if the wages for hotel workers could match the wages of disappearing manufacturing jobs. These families would be able to move out of poverty and into the middle class, which would help reinvigorate these communities.

To support the hard work of hotel workers by giving them more opportunities to achieve the American dream, we are launching the ’’Hotel Workers Rising" campaign. Our goal is to build a broad coalition of hotel workers, community activists, religious leaders, political leaders, and people of conscience to encourage the hotel industry to make good on the American promise.

For generations, America has been the land of opportunity — the place where if you worked hard and played by the rules, you could get ahead. Unfortunately, most Americans are working just as hard, but still struggling to make ends meet.

It is time for America to become the land of opportunity again, so no American who works full time lives in poverty.

Too many hard-working Americans are struggling to get by. It is time for America to once again reward work. It’s time to make work pay again and to give these workers the opportunity to live the American dream.

John Edwards is a former Democratic senator from North Carolina and vice presidential nominee. John Wilhelm is president of the UNITE HERE hotel workers union.

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ed...



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> Making America work for the working poor
Sunday February 19 - 05:24 - Posted by c9b193a11ff7029a...

here’s how to make America work for the poor. arrest the bush admin , all members of congress, the cfr, the trilateral commision, the fed reserve board members, all lobbyists, all presidential and congressional aides, the congress the senate , all bush admin appointees and members of the admin all diplomats, dod, doj, state deptmnt personnel, and any other crooks leeching from the federal payroll, and charge them as enemy combatants, then televize them in a ppv torture series broadcast around the world, and sell lottery tickets for the chance to pick one and torture him or her on tv that day, this would generate upwards of 20 trillion dollars annually and every social problem around the world could be solved from this sacrifice of 2000 of the nastiest people on earth. just something to ponder, but it really would solve alot of problems worldwide.




> Making America work for the working poor
Monday February 20 - 13:41 - Posted by 33d4c55ec76cb77a...

Exactly, I could not have said it better



> Making America work for the working poor
Monday February 20 - 13:49 - Posted by 33d4c55ec76cb77a...

Capitalism works like this:

if there are a million and one desperate applicants for a million jobs

then, in a fully informed, ideal, free labor market

the marked based pay of the one million jobs will be infinitesimal, i. e. zero

If that is an economic system, then I am a striped giraffe!




> Making America work for the working poor
Monday February 20 - 13:52 - Posted by 33d4c55ec76cb77a...

corrigendum: read "market based" instead of "marked based"



> Making America work for the working poor
Monday February 20 - 17:17 - Posted by 1311165a5059e499...

America DOES reward hard work: the hard work of financial manipulation. How many billions in bonuses are being paid out by the Wall Street brokerages for all the "effort" in 2005?
America’s problem is two-fold. First, the most capable Americans have lost sight of real value and real work. For the most part, the most creative and capable Americans are no longer creating wealth. They are "working the system" no differently, really, than a welfare brood-mare. Except that the dollars they "extract" from the system are a whole lot greater and they are lauded for their cleverness. Second, any sense of egalitarianism is gone. Simply gone. No more the notion that all workers, no matter how humble their work, are contributers to the social good and should not be made abjectly poor. America now has a vast cadre of working poor and a smaller, but significant complement of financial manipulators who are remunerated and heralded like oriental potentates. What’s the solution? Good question. Perhaps a complete financial meltdown. That’ll level the playing field, at least.




Mayor Wants Dallas Homeless Advocate Arrested
Saturday March 11 - 19:59 - Posted by 2f2d948528fdf984...

Dallas Mayor Miller, Through Her Husband Lawyer Steve Wolens, Wants Homeless Activist Sheridan Arrested

Dallas’ Ethics Panel Met Publically on Monday, February 27th, At 9 am, City Hall, And Struck Down Well Known Homeless Advocate Rich Sheridan’s Ethics Complaints Against Mayor Miller And 11 City Councilmembers. The Complaints Alledged Unethical Conduct Towards Dallas Homeless Soon After Dallas Was Rated No. 6 in the Nation in Meanness Towards The Homeless. Steve Wolens, Mayor Miller’s Husband, Representing Mayor Miller, Called For The Criminal Prosecution of Rich Sheridan For Knowingly Filing a False Complaint. Anyone remember Sheridan calling Mayor Miller, Mayor “Law-Ra” Miller?

Sheridan Claims We Have Ethical Problems With Our Federal Government, State Governments, And City Governments

Sheridan Claims That Mayor Miller Is Just One Of The So Called Leaders Amongst Us Who Lie And Deceive, And Act Above The Law Of The Land, Our U.S. Constitution, To Serve Special Interests. Sheridan Cites The Following:

 Our Federal Government Was Incompetant with 911 and Katrina, and Now The Fed Wants to Give Away Control of Our Biggest Ports To An Arab Country With Known Terrorist Ties!

 The Economic Divide Between Middle Class and Rich, and The Poor and the Rich is the greatest since the “Great Depression”. Take a look at Health Care Costs, Energy Costs, and The Rampant Porn in our society. This is being facilitated by Government, and we are not being protected as required by our U.S. Constitution, keeping us a society under God.

 Homelessness and Poverty are on the rise nationally, with Dallas’ Homeless Population rising 50% in the past year, from 6000 to 9000. Our North Texas Food Bank has run out of food for some.

 Dallas Continues to Give Away Millions Of Our Tax Money To Those Who Already Have Too Much, but can’t take adequate care of our Street Sleeping Homeless problem?! Dallas is rated Nationally No. 6 in “Meanness” towards the Homeless. The Voters, with Katrina, have shown a heart and a caring for the homeless.

Sheridan Claims That Dallas City Government Has Been Treating Our Street Sleeping Homeless Like Roaches, creating a set of laws that are like a can of Raid, out of which, out of their “cans”, out of their “asses” for the “shit” that these laws are, for the stink that these laws are putting on our city, disgracing us to the rest of the country. Sheridan calls this blunt New York talk, necessary when heartless politicians are causing unnecessary suffering, and even death. He says to ask almost anyone from Ft. Worth, from sea to sea to shining sea, about Dallas, and the majority will say that “Dallas is a Joke”, “Dallas is dysfunctional”, “Dallas is corrupt (unethical).” But our Mayor and City Council, Sheridan claims, are neither responsible for the problems, nor accountable to the voters for our National Image Problem and the mess our city is in, per Dallas Own Laws. God help us!

For Additional Information Contact: Rich Sheridan 972-919-4732 Emergency Number:214-740-9999







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