Speak Out for Good Jobs Now in Oakland

Authors: Danielle McMillian, Program Assistant

"We are a civilized nation, not the law of the jungle," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told an attentive crowd of over 700 people at August 16th's Speak Out Event. Supporters and critics alike, who had lined up hours before doors opened, packed the massive hall of the Acts Full Gospel Church in East Oakland.

The event titled "Speak Out for Good Jobs Now" was the first stop this August along members' of the Congressional Progressive Caucus's nationwide tour. Joined by California's Reps. Barbara Lee and Mike Honda and Arizona's Rep. Raul Grijalva, Minority Leader Pelosi shined a spotlight on the urgent need for the creation of good jobs as a way out of the recession, not just budget cuts and deficit reduction.

In a pre-event press conference, Pelosi asserted that "There is no magic formula... serious job creation must take place." Rather than wait on the "Table of Twelve" (the members of the bipartisan congressional deficit "Super Committee" appointed to tackle the deficit crisis), she called for immediate solutions. Pelosi emphasized the need for wages that rise with productivity, both long- and short-term sustainable job development, and continued funding for state and local government. She also placed special emphasis on closing the equity ownership gap by supporting women-, veteran- and minority-owned small businesses.

Pelosi drew gutsy boos from the crowd followed by hearty chants of "Tax the Rich!" when she relayed Republican choices to reduce the deficit by cutting funds for Medicare and Medicaid while maintaining tax cuts for the wealthy and pushing forward legislation that could potentially cut thousands of existing jobs from the economy.

Green For All's CEO Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins presented as well, speaking insightfully on clean energy's potential to alleviate poverty by bringing high-quality jobs to urban communities.

"What's most exciting about the green economy is that it offers the possibility to have manufacturing again, to actually create things... in both the private and the public sector," said Ellis-Lamkins. "And the greatest growth sector right now is clean energy."

She added that "[w]hat the folks in Washington, D.C., would have us do is fight each other" Echoing Pelosi's emphasis on closing the equity gap, Ellis-Lamkins departed by saying, "I want to make sure the story of tonight is that people of color need jobs... solutions and jobs."

Differences aside, let's agree that it will take both a civilized and insightful approach for America to emerge from the tangled weeds of the economic crisis.

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