Red Tide #17
Jobs: Going, Gone!
By Michael Long and Sue Daniels [Michael Letwin and Susie Bright]
It’s no secret that this country is in an economic crisis. Government and business “experts” treat this like an interesting intellectual problem[,] which they are challenged with figuring out and solving. Their income runs into the tens of or hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. However, most working people (if they are employed at all) make around $8,000 a year, and with today’s inflation and unemployment, that kind of money just won’t make it.
THOSE HARDEST HIT
The people hit worse now are those at the bottom of the working class: the black, [L]atino and women workers. These workers have only recently been allowed into major industrial work because of pressure from the various liberation movements of the ‘60s that forced many companies to stop their long-standing policy of hiring only white males. But since layoffs in industry are figured by how long you’ve worked at a place, minorities and women are laid off first.
Within all these groups, it is young people who are absolutely the hardest hit. Young people out of school now looking for work are going to have the time of their lives finding it. Even if there is a temporary economic recovery, young workers will be last on the list to benefit from it. The old “American Dream” myth about how if you only try hard, and kiss ass, you will come out alright, is being destroyed in peoples’ minds every time they get turned away from another job or laid off. While the overall unemployment rate for youth is 10.8%, the official figure for young blacks is 42%, and increasing daily.
NO YOUTH BENEFITS
Many adult workers have been able to win the right to unemployment benefits after fighting for them for years, but young people just out of high school and looking for work get nothing. If you don’t have a job you can’t live. It’s as simple as that. We all know how hard it is to get a job anyway without a previous work record, but now even that barely carries any weight.
UNION LEADERS NO USE
Unions, which once fought for the rights of all workers, young and old, look the other way now. It’s absolutely true that the union leadership refuses to do anything for unemployed workers of any age, but this situation is especially bad for us, because hardly any young workers are unionized to begin with. Organized workers are beginning to demand that unions fight the layoffs by making companies take cuts in their profits instead of working people paying all out for a crisis we had nothing to do with creating. If the companies can’t run things on that basis, then the workers in the industry can take over the plant and run it themselves.
Huge youth unemployment has an enormous effect. Gangs have spread like wildfire, army recruitment is booming, more young people live on the road looking for work. Tens of thousands of young people, who are completely fed up and frustrated at the system know that it will not work for us; not just at 18 or 19, but at 25, 45, or 90.
LET’S TURN IT AROUND
We cannot rely on the Government for any of their pathetic, half-assed, police-padded solutions to work. We have to get together to stop the rip-off of working people, especially of young workers, and guarantee ourselves decent wages, benefits, working conditions, etc. Most of all we have to demand JOBS from either the companies or the Government. They have the money and the security because they’re on top, and working people pay the price and the pain at the bottom. We aim to turn that upside-down.
[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See: http://theredtide.wordpress.com/]