Also this month, the unemployment specter came to visit our church family. Phil Porter finished at his temporary position in Washington State, and I lost my job with the trucking firm I had been with for a year and a half due to the loss of their contract. I looked around for what was available and decided to accept employment with the new company taking over the contract. The pay is about the same, but the benefits are not what I had been accustomed to. Labor in general is taking it on the chin in this recession. We are being told we need to work more for less, or not. Today three people I work with who thought they had jobs with the new company were told that they were not needed. That’s a two day notice, as the change over happens on Monday.
Which brings me to my point, what can we do about the employment situation? Not that there is anything that any of us can do personally, but we need ideas. We can’t depend on government or an investor to build a mega factory in our community. We can’t manufacture our way out of this. Technology and animation have eliminated most of the unskilled jobs that were available even ten years ago. We can’t expect everyone to get an engineering degree just to have a job, and I’m sure there are more than a few engineers out there looking for work also. But, what can we do together to help everyone in our community have a job that will feed their families and have a decent place to live.
This week I got a call from my friend Tom Mc Kellop. Tom is the facilitator of the Unemployed Persons support group which meets at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Tuesday mornings, from 10 till 12.
A couple of years ago I attended this group when I was searching for a job. At the meeting, attendees network, learn how to write resumes and cover letters, have mock interviews and search for jobs from the information that Tom gathers. I met a few wonderful people there, including Bev Abplanalp, who spoke to us last year and will speak again on September 2nd, Labor Day. Tom told me that even though the unemployment rate appears to be dropping, many folks have just stopped looking. Some, like Bev, are under-employed, and many have had to take unsuitable employment just to have a basic income.
I will be putting a lot of thought and effort into coming up with ideas. As I said before, no one person or party can solve this problem. It will take all of us working together with compassion for everyone in our community. This is a matter of justice. When one of our neighbors is suffering, we all suffer. We are all connected.