The following article appeared as part of the Labor Voices series in the Detroit News. It was authored by UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles.
Strong communities are based upon a workforce that earns livable wages and benefits. Well-paying jobs are the basic building blocks for creating well-established homes, communities and securing our country’s economic future.
Detroit’s economy was at its best when full-time, good-paying jobs were plentiful. When people had the means the tax base was higher, communities were clean and safe, and small businesses flourished as more people had the necessary resources to invest in the upkeep of their communities.
Additionally, families were able to put food on the table and send their children to college; crime was much lower as a result. Since the loss of manufacturing jobs to developing countries, cities across America have been crippled and in some cases have gone bankrupt. Detroit has a broken education system and homes that have become abandoned, creating acres of blight.
When people are unable to make a livable wage, youth have little to no means to further their education. They instead fall into the school-to-prison pipeline and inevitable generational poverty is created.
Consequently, we must reject the notion that Americans should compete with foreign workers, from a human rights point of view. Such thinking is a breeding ground for desperation, as foreign workers are often forced to accept excessively low wages and compromising work conditions. The long-term economic impact of such doing is global, resulting in failing communities and crippled economies.
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