While the recession in Colorado seems to be on the mend, the state still faces job loss: Colorado's job shortfall was estimated by the Economic Policy Institute to be 195,191 jobs in November 2009. As promoting the creation of good jobs has long been central to FRESC's mission, the current recession and recovery efforts provide unique challenges and opportunities for our work. Since commercial and private development has dramatically slowed, we are exploring new strategies to ensure that good jobs are created with public monies.
FRESC's green jobs, weatherization and FasTracks projects maximize the ability of public investment to create good jobs. FRESC has joined the Good Jobs Now! Campaign, which is uniting labor and community organizations to find proactive solutions to the jobs crisis. The coalition calls for legislation from national and Colorado leaders that will protect working families hit by the recession, create good jobs and help to rebuild America's infrastructure. In Colorado, Good Jobs Now! is spearheaded by Working America, Colorado Jobs with Justice, FRESC: For Good Jobs and Strong Communities, the Interfaith Worker Justice Committee of Colorado, the Denver Area Labor Federation and the Colorado AFL-CIO. The Colorado Good Jobs Now! campaign was kicked off by a delegation of unemployed workers and faith leaders from the FRESC-led Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice. The delegation delivered petitions to Colorado's U.S. Senators, calling on them to support ordinary Coloradans who are struggling to feed their families, pay utility bills and maintain their health care by voting to extend Unemployment Insurance and eligibility for COBRA health care benefits. You can view more about the AFL-CIO&'s Good Jobs Now! five-point plan and national efforts here.
FRESC's green jobs campaign shares a new vision of job creation that helps to save the environment and uplift vulnerable workers. Projected growth of the new energy economy and increased public investment in weatherization and renewable energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provide a unique opportunity to respond to both the economic and environmental crises by ensuring that the expanding industries provide career pathways to family-sustaining jobs. Green Careers for Colorado is a $3.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor that will train existing and new workers in energy-efficiency assessments and renewable electrical power. FRESC, along with a broad coalition of community, environmental and labor organizations, is also working to ensure that increased funding for home weatherization creates good jobs that provide training, family-supporting wages and benefits, and prioritize the hiring of women, veterans, people of color and the underemployed.
FRESC is continuing to work to support the fullest build-out possible of the regional transportation system, FasTracks. In addition to improved air quality and expanded access to cost-effective transportation, FasTracks also has the ability to create good jobs. However, the recession has decreased the revenues collected and will slow the expansion of the system. One strategy FRESC is using in response to the crisis is a postcard campaign aimed at building public support for additional local and federal investment in the project.
Finally, over 150 community members gathered on February 17 at the "We Are Main Street" rally in downtown Denver to call on Congress to end the bailout of Wall Street. Carmen Rhodes, FRESC's Executive Director, was a featured speaker at the rally, and she delivered a strong message about the need for good job creation for working America.