On January 25, CASE had the good fortune to attend President Obama’s speech at the Intel campus in Chandler, Arizona. In addition to some inspiring remarks about the climate of freedom and ambition that has nurtured American business, and the obligation of every American to honor those who have dedicated themselves to creating that climate, President Obama celebrated the potential of enterprises like Intel to revive the American economy by rebuilding the nation’s manufacturing base.
Yet what President Obama failed to mention is that the Intel plant will employ only 1,000 people in permanent jobs. With constant technological innovation, American worker productivity is on the rise and companies are producing more with fewer workers. Coupled with the fact that companies are also asking their employees to accomplish more work in less time and rewarding their efficiency with lower staffing levels, and it becomes clear very quickly that simply building more factories will hardly eliminate poverty among working people.
Hundreds of thousands of Arizonans rely on existing jobs in the service sector to support families. Driving our buses, shipping our goods, making beds in our hotels, and cleaning our airports: these are the jobs our economy offers and is creating more of right now. CASE’s worker-leaders and community partners are fighting to improve job quality to ensure that increases in efficiency in existing industries benefit the people who work hard to produce that efficiency.
The ideas being trumpeted locally and nationally rarely address this critical question. In the coming months, CASE will be launching a Quality Jobs Coalition to insert the question more forcefully into election-year discussions about the local and national economy. In the meantime, start asking the question among the people you care about: ‟Why can’t our jobs be quality jobs?”