SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger took the main stage at Netroots Nation to talk about what it’s going to take to build a 21st century economy that works for all Americans. Joined by New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and economist Dean Baker, the panel discussed the problems and opportunities we face as we find our place in a global, service-oriented economy.
Dean Baker opened the discussion with a clear message to the progressive community: we need a strong union movement to stabilize our economy and create a solid middle class. According to Baker, unions do more than just win better wages and benefits for their members; they improve the quality of services provided to communities, create a foundation of good jobs that can help local and state economies weather tough economic times, and provide the support needed to pass major legislation that benefits middle class Americans.
As governor of the most union dense state in the country, John Corzine spoke about unions’ ability to promote wealth gains that are shared by all Americans – not just the wealthiest one percent. He stressed that, as we rebuild our economy, we need to do away with the laws on the books that have hurt working Americans and made it so difficult for workers to join unions.
Anna Burger’s call for a national, long-term economic plan – something we’ve been without for decades – filled the room with applause. She said that, done correctly, we can build an economy that creates good jobs, lowers our carbon footprint, and gives us a lead role in the global marketplace. But, according to Burger, that kind of change takes real, grassroots energy around policy and not just politics. “Real change doesn’t happen during elections every four years,” she said. “It happens in the time before and after elections with smart policies that benefit all Americans.”
John Vandeventer: John Vandeventer is an online organizer & new media specialist in healthcare on SEIU’s New Media team.
This article originally appeared on the SEIU Blog on August 15, 2009 and is reprinted here with permission from the source.