AFT praises President Obama’s bold jobs plan

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The American Jobs Act is the right antidote to help solve our persistent economic problems, AFT president Randi Weingarten says of President Obama’s plan to get people back to work.

“President Obama made clear that we can and must do better,” says Weingarten. “This package will help provide good jobs that support families; public services that build communities; and resources for schools to provide students a high-quality and robust education in safe and healthy buildings.”

In addition to extending and expanding the tax break on workers’ share of the payroll tax, which would put an additional $1,500 in the pocket of a family earning $50,000 a year, the $447 billion American Jobs Act would:

  • Eliminate the payroll tax for small businesses that increase their payroll by adding workers or increasing the wages of their current employees.
  • Invest in several job-creating initiatives, including school infrastructure modernization; highway, transit, rail and aviation improvements; and rehabilitation and refurbishment of hundreds of thousands of vacant and foreclosed homes and businesses.
  • Reform unemployment insurance to prevent 5 million Americans who are looking for work from losing their benefits; expand “work-sharing,” to encourage arrangements that keep employees on the job at reduced hours using unemployment insurance; and institute new re-employment programs, including “Bridge to Work,” which permits long-term unemployed workers to continue to receive unemployment insurance while they take temporary, voluntary work or pursue work-based training.
  • Help states and localities prevent the layoff of up to 280,000 teachers, while supporting the hiring of tens of thousands more—and support the hiring and retention of public safety and first responder personnel.

AFT member Nicole Gentile was among two dozen special guests sitting with first lady Michelle Obama during the president’s Sept. 8 address to Congress in which he outlined the American Jobs Act. Following the address, Gentile, a member of the Cleveland Teachers Union, appeared on MSNBC’s “The Ed Show.”

“President Obama is leading on this issue, and we hope Congress steps up and passes the jobs package swiftly,” says Weingarten.