Hire 100,000 unemployed workers for emergency disaster relief — NOW!

The government has failed to respond adequately to the enormous human suffering caused by Hurricane Sandy. Relief centers across the region have been putting out urgent calls for more volunteers and more supplies, from hot food to blankets, socks, water and diapers. As the workweek begins again, many of those who volunteered this past weekend will be drawn away.

I have joined with my running mate Yari Osorio, many campaign volunteers, and thousands of other working-class heroes in building a grassroots relief effort that has put the  government to shame. But all this self-sacrifice is still not enough.

What is needed is an enormous government-funded relief and reconstruction program, which will hire 100,000 unemployed workers right away. This number is only a drop in the bucket, given the whole unemployment picture, but it will make a immediate difference in our communities and to the workers’ families. The number can be expanded as necessary.

I have initiated a petition demanding such a program be enacted immediately — please take a moment to sign it.

As of Sunday, Nov. 4, there are still 730,000 people in New York City, 1 million in New Jersey, and 200,000 others without power along the Atlantic Coast. The situation in many of these areas is dire, with residents lacking running water and other basic necessities. In many of these communities there are elderly and sick people who are immobile and difficult to reach.

There is a major winter storm bearing down on the Northeast scheduled to hit Wednesday. Once again there could be coastal flooding. As temperatures fall, those without heat and power are in a very dangerous situation. Largely unable to communicate without the outside world, we need to have emergency workers in every building, on every block, going door to door to deliver supplies and give residents’ information. This can happen in the next three days, but it requires immediate government action.

This emergency relief work and reconstruction program should allow for a comprehensive evacuation effort to get people to safer ground where they can stay in dignified living spaces with all the food, water and other essentials they need.

While we have been overwhelmed by the giving spirit of poor and working people, already dealing with a severe economic crisis, the government must stop pinching pennies at the expense of people’s lives.

We demand that Mayor Bloomberg, governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie, and President Barack Obama take swift and decisive action to put this plan into action. Any claims that the money is not available for such a massive operation ring hollow: the government can start by seizing funds from the bailed out banks, who received $700 billion in tax-payers’ funds at a moment’s notice four years ago. The government can also commandeer and put into immediate use the resources of private corporations in order to meet this real “national security” emergency.

Given the possibility of a comprehensive relief effort to save people’s lives and end the suffering, failing to act will amount to criminal negligence for which individual politicians and the system as a whole will be responsible. Talk is cheap—it is time for action.

If you agree with this plan of action, please take a moment to send a letter demanding it be enacted.

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