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Labor Leader: Middle Class Needs Manufacturing Jobs to Survive

December 10, 2008

Phoenix, AZ – The future of Arizona's middle class may hang in the balance as workers await more details on President-elect Obama's job-creating public works plan, according to a major Arizona labor leader. Jim McLaughlin, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 39, says Obama should make manufacturing jobs a top priority, because they provide the kind of benefits that make a middle-class lifestyle possible.

"We've really gotten away from good, solid manufacturing-based jobs. We have to identify what those manufacturing jobs are going to be in the future, and make sure that they exist for us and for our children, and our children's children."

The federal government, says McLaughlin, could offer incentives to companies to provide better benefits, and he says that could be accomplished without more high-dollar bail-outs.

"Whether it's a tax break or an 'attaboy' or maybe taxing the employers that don't offer those things, that would be an incentive."

McLaughlin, who is also international vice-president of the UFCW, says Arizona workers have "gotten the shaft" over the last several years as employers have slashed health and pension benefits while outsourcing manufacturing jobs overseas. Some economists have warned that a massive federally-funded jobs program could result in high inflation down the road.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ