The Week in Review

The broadest measure of unemployment in the United States was 12 percent in August, the Labor Department announced on Friday. Sen. Bernie Sanders spent Labor Day last Monday calling for a major investment in road and bridge projects –work that badly needs to be done anyway – as a way to create millions of good-paying jobs. On Thursday, Sanders supported fast-food workers who took to the streets to protest their starvation wages they make.  With up to 15,000 Postal Service jobs on the chopping block, Sanders welcomed Senate Leader Harry Reid’s decision on Wednesday to sign a letter with 50 other senators calling for a one-year moratorium on USPS cuts.

Jobs The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s disappointing jobs report on Friday said there was 12 percent unemployment in a category that counts workers forced to settle for part-time work and those who gave up looking for a job was almost double the “official unemployment rate” of 6.1 percent. A small decrease from July wasn’t because there were any more jobs, but because the size of the work force shrank.  The news was worse for younger workers. Even using the official unemployment rate, the jobless figure for 16- to 19-year-olds was 19.6 percent. For those 20- to 24-years-old, the unemployment rate was 10.6 percent.

Labor Day The latest job numbers underscore the need for a federal jobs program, something Sanders talked about at events marking Labor Day on Monday at a New Hampshire AFL-CIO breakfast.  “We can create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and dramatically improve life for low-wage workers by raising the minimum wage.  We need new trade policies to prevent corporations from throwing American workers out on the street and running to China for cheap labor and we need new tax policies so they can't stash their profits in foreign tax havens,” he said. 

Fast-Food Workers Strike Fast-food workers from McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC restaurants staged protests in more than 150 U.S. cities on Thursday. Workers struggling on the minimum wage or slightly more want to double their pay to $15 an hour.  They also are seeking the right to join a union. “It is an act of extraordinary courage on the part of these working people,” Sanders said. “Today, people at these fast-food places are being paid a starvation wage. That’s the only way I can describe it. They have no health insurance because what McDonalds and Burger King offer is something that they can’t afford. So these people who are being exploited are standing up for justice. I have enormous respect for their courage.”

Stop Postal Service Cuts Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday added his crucial backing to calls for a one-year moratorium on U.S. Postal Service plans to close up to 82 mail processing plants, slow down mail delivery and eliminate up to 15,000 jobs. With Reid’s signature, a bipartisan majority of 51 senators have now signed a letter calling for a ban on Postal Service cuts as part of must-pass legislation to keep the government running into the new fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Sens. Sanders, Jon Tester and Tammy Baldwin organized the effort to block the cuts proposed by Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.

Health Care Cliff Amid a major crisis in primary health care, the situation may become significantly worse unless Congress renews support for community health centers that care for 22 million Americans, Sanders warned on Wednesday. Four years ago he secured $12.5 billion in the Affordable Care Act to expand community health centers and to recruit more doctors, dentists and nurses. The funding runs out at the end of the next fiscal year. “Millions of Americans could lose access to community health centers. Members of Congress will need to work in a bipartisan way to extend funding if we are to continue to provide Americans with the greatest health care needs a reliable source of primary care,” Sanders said.