LaVenia Campaign Calls for Full Employment for New Yorkers

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Peter LaVenia, the Green Party candidate for NY State Senate in District 44, called for a permanent full employment program in New York as part of a Green New Deal. LaVenia said New York’s unemployment rate of 9.1% and underemployment rate of 14.6% was a crisis for working people but neither Democrats nor Republicans were doing anything about it. LaVenia’s full employment program would have two parts: a New-Deal WPA-style public employment program funded by the state and run by municipalities to build a green infrastructure and services, and state-sponsored worker-cooperatives across New York, built on the “Cleveland” model.

“It’s simply outrageous that our legislators and governor have done almost nothing to combat unemployment and absolutely nothing to work towards full employment. This shouldn’t come as a surprise: when Senator Breslin and the Democrats controlled both chambers of the Legislature and the Governorship, they did nothing to raise the minimum wage, unemployment benefits, or pass a farm worker bill of rights. The cozy relationship of Democrats and Republicans to Wall St. means they legislate the economy for the 1%, not the 99%. Unfortunately this has consequences for New Yorkers, which are clearly visible throughout the state and large portions of the 44th State Senate District.

Today is Labor Day, and I call for a Green New Deal: Full employment in New York through a massive, ongoing public works project in every town and county at living wages of at least $15 an hour and allow for card-check unionization. Like the WPA under Roosevelt, the Green New Deal should be funded by the state and administered locally. Municipalities would decide how to allocate jobs, whether in greening and rebuilding infrastructure, building renewable power generation, or creating work in health care, education, and human services. This should be a permanent jobs-creation program: instead of an unemployment office, we need public employment offices. Philip Harvey, a Rutgers professor of economics and law, has shown that direct job creation programs pay for themselves over a business cycle, both in the new money jobs pump into communities, the private-sector jobs created from increased demand, and the lessened need for social assistance programs,” stated LaVenia.

“We also need to build a social economy devoted to meeting the real needs of New Yorkers. I propose the state of New York fund and nurture worker-owned and operated cooperatives, using progress made in Cleveland, Spain, and Venezuela as a model. Co-ops would receive state funds to start, and be obligated to spend 15% of their annual receipts on projects in the community, decided on by local citizens and the workers, and would be given preference in government contracting. Workers in the private sector would be given help turning businesses that threaten to leave or go bankrupt into cooperatives as well. Not only are cooperatives inherently locally owned businesses, they are democratically run and pay better wages than comparative private-sector jobs.

The Green New Deal would be a win for all New Yorkers, given the boost local economies will get from living wage jobs and new cooperative businesses. Yet it is only the Green Party proposing these measures, and not the Democrats or Republicans. It’s time for a change in Albany,” added LaVenia.

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