Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Reps. Conyers & Wilson Host "Employment: A Human Right" Forum

(WASHINGTON) – Today, following the establishment of the Congressional Full Employment Caucus last week, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) and Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) hosted a forum entitled, “Employment: A Human Right,” moderated by Christina Bellantoni, Editor-in-Chief of Roll Call. Esteemed panelists for the forum included: Dean Baker the Co-Director and Co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research; John Cavanagh, Director of the Institute for Policy Studies; Phil Harvey, Professor of Law and Economics at Rutgers University; Thea Lee, Deputy Chief of Staff of the AFL-CIO; and Larry Mishel, President of the Economic Policy Institute. Today’s forum was a constructive discussion on policymakers role in addressing the unemployment crisis as well as Congressman Conyers’ legislation, H.R. 1000, the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Training Act and Congresswoman Wilson’s H.R. 2821, the American Jobs Act of 2013. After the forum Rep. Conyers and Rep. Wilson issued the following statement:

Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.): “To me, addressing poverty and inequality is fundamentally about addressing unemployment and underemployment. While President Obama emphasized important initiatives in his State of the Union address last week, we must go further. If we are to be successful in truly reducing inequality, we must set a goal to reach full employment and we must do this by viewing full employment as the top domestic priority. The national conversation must include the belief that government can work to achieve full employment through aggressive policy and move away from the notion that government can only create an economic environment that allows the private sector to possibly obtain full employment. For most, economic survival is critically sustained by employment, and if and when society cannot assure the survival of all citizens through access to employment, government has a obligation to provide these opportunities - employment must be viewed as a human right. It is my hope that today’s conversation and future action of the Congressional Full Employment Caucus will help shift the country’s focus to achieve full employment and allow for economic independency for all Americans.”

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.): “With nearly 30 million Americans either unemployed or underemployed, we have a moral obligation to solve this crisis.  This is about restoring dignity to tens of millions of Americans.  It’s simple.  Unemployment means anxiety and insecurity that translates into worse mental and physical health. Unemployment means lower lifelong earnings - not only for workers, but also for their children.  Unemployment means a lower tax base and, in turn, higher deficits.  There are bipartisan options to build a Full Employment Society, including proposals to spur public-private investments in infrastructure and close the skills gap. But we must act now.  We founded the Full Employment Caucus to get Congress to act.”

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