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When Will Jobs Come Back?

As you might have seen on TV, Karen Finerman sat down with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and asked her point blank about jobs.

Are jobs coming back? Can the market keep climbing without them? Keep reading to find out about administration’s plan to get people back to work.

And on the following pages learn:
- If green energy has lost momentum with gas prices down dramatically.
- Whether labor would abandon the public health care option
- Where Solis stands on the FedEx dispute
- How women are growing their roles in labor unions

Stimulus And The Economic Recovery

FINERMAN: Let’s turn the conversation to the economic recovery and the stimulus. Unemployment rate near double digits, how are you going to get people back to work?

SOLIS: Well I think we are beginning to see the implementation of the American Recovery Act, which was signed into law in February, to help first of all help rescue and then rebuild. So the rescue part was a big portion of the funds that went in to help those dislocated workers, those 700 thousand in the beginning of January that lost their jobs were able to draw down, I’d say, a much more expanded unemployment checks but also expanded weeks of help, so that has helped to stabilize many in our communities in fact that money goes back into our local cities and towns and helps to keep those small business going, that isn’t a cure all so we know that the second part has to be job training and looking at new expanding careers.

And the careers that I think are going to grow in the future are Healthcare, because I see and up-peak there. I also see and up-peak in IT, broadband and high technology but also in green technology, which is a big initiative of this President. Green jobs, renewable energy, solar power, wind, bio-fuels and I think right now is a time, because we’ve seen a contraction in our economy and because we’ve lost a lot of manufacturing jobs is to look at these new avenues to get into. So on the one hand capital is being unleashed, for example through support through SPA, Department of Energy and other effort and my jobs is to train workers and right now we have a shortage of trained workers in these new high-sector innovative areas.

What do you think? We want to know!

Green Jobs Growth

FINERMAN: One of the things that you talked about which is green energy, in the last year as the global economy has slowed and oil has dropped precipitously and natural gas has dropped it seems like the urgency to come up with alternative energies has been diminished somewhat. How do you address that, is that still a viable place for meaningful new job growth?

SOLIS: I believe so. I don’t think it’s the only silver bullet out there but I don’t believe as consequences of the restructuring of our manufacturing base that we have to look at new revolutionary ideas and I do think that’s its in our best interest because why should we be reliant on the resources of other foreign countries who may not be our friends and would create more insecurities for our safety. So if we could start to invest and even have people look in their own households to retool, get new appliances, help them save money. Wouldn’t that be better than having to send or export all those kinds of items or have to import them from other countries? Let’s invest in America and create those jobs that pay well, that can often times add ten to twelve percent higher wages for workers here.

Labor And The Public Option

FINERMAN: When you talk about healthcare reform labor has been a big supporter of the public option. Would you lose their support if you were to abandon the public option?

SOLIS: I think that those negotiations will be going on with the Senate and the House and I think the President has made very clear that that is an important aspect and certainly one that will make its way through the process but that isn’t the only thing that we are looking at. The first thing, is number one the miss I guess that people think they are going to lose their healthcare, so no, I strongly believe that if people like what they have and if they want to improve it, they have a choice, they can do that too. That’s where, say a public option or an exchange, an exchange maybe is a better word.

But I would say to you that people would keep their healthcare, those that don’t have it, the 46 million and growing by day, because 14,000 people lose their healthcare every single day and we need to be reminded of that. And lastly the cost, making sure that we eliminate inefficiencies, draw down fraud, cut out the waste, the administration costs that sometimes are tacked on with these insurance group and really do a better job of prevention and that’s really where the healthcare allied careers that I talked about can help us reduce those costs by looking at chronic illnesses that are prevalent in low income communities and communities where people don’t have easy access to healthcare like asthma, diabetes, and things of that nature, obesity. So I think we can cut our costs in the beginning and start planning we are going to see in the long run that tax payers are going to save.

FedEx And Unionizing

FINERMAN: Where do you stand on the FedEx dispute?

SOLIS: I don’t take positions at this point, things are somewhat removed from my authority at this point. But I certainly support the efforts of being able to organize, I know UPS has a very good relationship with the Teamsters, and as someone from Southern California, we had a very large warehouse operation there with UPS. Every year we’d visit the workers, many of who lived in my hometown, and saw that they reaped the benefits of good salaries, it was a good place also for temp workers, to come in and be able to have draw down salaries because they had the union there, I think it’s a very good management and employee relationship.

Women And The Workplace

FINERMAN: I know you’re here to address the teamsters women, which are a spirited bunch, yet only 19% of the labor movement, I’m sorry, Teamsters, are women. Is there a place for more women there?

SOLIS: Absolutely. I think in every union, and every facet I think of our work life, women are now better represented, and even now in this current economic situation more women are working, but they’re working for less pay, and not represented in good categories where their pay should be equivalently shared, its not there.

So I continue to see that there’s still wage gaps, and I continue to see a need to get more women to training programs, so I’m excited about the opportunity to getting them involved in green jobs, and healthcare and I.T., but also in other non-traditional areas. I just met with RAMP(?) workers who are trying to get better wages, and organized with folks who work in the airline industry, met also with people who work in the recycling industry, that have worked for years, and many are women that are also unfairly discriminated against. So I think that we have a long way to go, but I’d say there’s room for growth and I’m happy to be one of the few women serving as labor secretary to help provide support for that.


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