For young workers, the so-called recovery is meaningless to nonexistent. Most of us have been facing a crisis from the very beginning of our working lives. We’ve been unable to build up even the most meager basis for establishing ourselves. Those of us who have tried to strike out on our own in our late teens or early twenties, the way our parents or grandparents did, have found it nearly impossible.

We’ve been faced with poverty wages and non-union jobs, no benefits and zero job security. Most young people are forced to float from job to job, searching desperately for one that might pay fifty cents or a dollar more per hour. And that is if we get really lucky. A few quick facts will help to show the full scope of the picture.

According to one survey, most workers between the ages of eighteen and thirty make $21,000 or less per year, nowhere near a living wage. As of June, the youth unemployment rate (for workers under twenty) was approximately 47 percent, while the picture was even worse in America, with 55 percent of those under twenty terminally unemployed. If the figures for immigrant youth were included, these statistics would be far, far worse.

Those lucky enough to have gone to college enter the work force under a mountain of debt. More than 31 percent of workers under thirty have no health insurance. Most can barely pay the bills and are often forced to live in communal homes or with their families in order to cover the cost of living.

It is a dismal situation. But the situation is not beyond solving. The first task, and the most pressing, is for the trade unions to do what they are supposed to – organize! The unions must organize so-called casual workers in order to secure better conditions for a new generation of workers, and fight militantly for those conditions to remain once won.

The second task for the trade unions is to greatly expand apprenticeship programs. Most unions have already abandoned these. That was a major error! With large-scale apprenticeship programs, a layer of skilled, highly educated and militant unionists can be brought into being virtually overnight. The jobs these apprentices can enter will be high-wage, full benefit jobs, especially in the skilled trades.

In order to have quality jobs available, the unions must mobilize the rank and file and the unemployed for a massive program of public jobs – millions of union jobs — not the paltry ones created by a so called stimulus package.

Thirdly, the trade unions must open union hiring halls, in order to expedite the unemployed into job openings. These hiring halls must be entirely under union control. That demand goes along with that of a closed shop. Union jobs for union workers, with union control over hiring and firing.

Ultimately, however, even if all these measures are put in place, the problem will not be solved entirely. There is no solution for unemployment under capitalism. This system is incapable of providing full employment in the current world economic situation due to the nature of and limits of the market, which demands a smaller workforce producing more. The only system which can perpetually guarantee full employment is socialism.

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