Netroots Panel: "Young Workers: Taking Charge of Our Future"
Posted by admin on 07/23/2010
A guest post by AAM intern Whitney Stack:ManufactureThis is busy attending various panel discussions at Netroots Nation. This afternoon, we thought we'd attend the "Young Workers: Taking Charge of Our Future" panel, featuring discussion from AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler and activists Maria Escobar, Sara Flocks, and Cory McCray. Panelists Maria Escobar, Sara Flocks, and Cory McCray are taking charge of their economic future by forming grassroots coalitions and networking with unions. Liz Shuler begins the panel discussion and explains that she was the youngest secreatry-treasurer in the labor movement. It's worrying to her if she's the youngest-- which poses the question of why young America isn't moving up and into the labor movement. She points out some troubling statistics for young workers in America: More than a third of workers age 35 and under cannot pay the bills; seven in 10 do not have enough saved to cover two months of living expenses; and a third are forced to live at home with their parents. The question, then, is how can young workers avoid becoming the nation's new underclass? There is fundamental shift taking place in the workplace. Young workers are the nation's future. But union membership is shrinking; do young workers know about unions? Sara Flocks outlines some of the difficulties facing workers. The U.S. has shifted to lower-paying service economy jobs while college tuitions are increasing. There's a tremendous difficulty in paying for school. Campaign to raise the minimum wage. Politics and campaigns can involve young workers. Cory McCray explains the formation of the Young Trade Unionists. Their effort is to educate and motivate young workers. It's important to be creative and innovative in building coalitions. Maria Escobar tells how the labor movement can get students more involved. How to get better wages and benefits. The economic crisis has made students more aware of the need to pursue policy and workers rights. Liz Shuler asks-- the big question is: "What motivates young people to act or join a movement?" What brings young people together. Sara Flocks: Face to face contact is the most important way to network and get people involved. Ask them "What are the problems you're having? How can we help?" Cory McCray: Building trades pay good wages-- how do we continue to ensure good wages? Invite people to meetings, continue the education effort. Good wages, healthcare, and retirement are very important-- they can provide incentives to get others involved. Also, apprenticeships provide free education, which is important. Maria Escobar: students come from working families and have a sense of social justice. The economic crisis makes students wonder what jobs they'll be able to find.
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