Our district, NY-27, is home to the worst metropolitan job market in the country.
Yes, you read that right: worst in the country. It’s clear that our leadership has failed us.
It’s not that our district is lacking in resources and potential — far from it. Every time I drive across the Skyway in Buffalo, I look out at Lake Erie. I see windmills along the waterfront and parts of the shoreline restored. Along the paths of Tiff Nature Preserve, birds will literally eat out of your hand as hulking abandoned factories, standing relics from a lost era, loom in the background.
Looking at it, I’m reminded of Ireland — the abandoned moss and ivy-covered castles of Cork and Chashel. But for the castles and the factories alike, no one is coming back anytime soon. And those factories once employed thousands of people.
So where will the next generation work? How will we support this region and our families? The challenge is that many of the jobs we lost didn’t only go to Mexico or Asia — they just no longer exist. Automation and advances in technology will continue to take more jobs in the coming years.
But we can’t lose hope. There are answers to these problems if we have the courage to take action and build on our strengths.
Farming and agriculture is still our biggest local industry, but we must rethink its importance as a matter of national security. Think of it: If we can’t grow here, what country will we go to for food? And we have the best land in the world, dark, rich, and more arable land per mile than almost any nation or state.
Like it or not, these farms need workers. That proves troublesome for the 80 percent of Upstate communities that have lost population in recent years. Immigration reform and a proper visa program (so migrants are not “illegal”) is a must. And our President needs to stop using our farmers as cannon fodder in failed trade wars.
Finally, we must look at new crops. The hemp and cannabis industry continues to grow across our country — and the world. We can’t be the last to accept this and lose out on the benefits, including new jobs and a major boost to our economy. Time is running out.
EMBRACE NEW TECH
To truly catch up to the modern era, we also need to embrace new technology. One hundred years ago, we laced this country in electric and telephone wire. Today, we must lace it with broadband to end the cable monopoly’s stranglehold on the local economy. Developing a network of broadband wires that send information at the speed of light will employ tens of thousands of union workers, including workers in the healthcare industry. Solar and wind projects — properly sited in a way that does not unreasonably mar our natural spaces — will do the same.
INVEST IN CRAFTSMANSHIP
We must invest in trade schools and journeymen programs. Mechanics, plumbers, and electricians, to name a few, are needed right now. These are jobs that aren’t going anywhere. We will always need people to keep the lights on. Key cities in our region have some of the highest child poverty rates in the country and dismal high school graduation rates. If we invest in our schools, we will not lose another generation of builders and creators.
Crucially, we have to pass an infrastructure bill that will rebuild America. I have seen the mighty new airports, bridges, and superhighways built by our competitors in Asia. The tallest building in the World? It’s not in New York City. The longest suspension bridge? It’s not the Golden Gate. We built the vast majority of our infrastructure over 100 years ago. An investment in America is an investment in the jobs of the future.
REMEMBER UNIONS BUILT THE MIDDLE CLASS
When our country had a high rate of unionization, the middle class had more buying power, more vacation time, and more savings for retirement. But our President is working to destroy unions. We must reverse this trend.
Look at the facts. Trump-appointed two Supreme Court justices who have documented anti-union and anti-worker voting records. He appointed Antonin Scalia’s son (Eugene) to be the Secretary of Labor. Eugene’s entire career has been focused on anti-union litigation. And under Trump, the National Labor Relations Board has whittled down union rights by undercutting union apprentice programs, making it easier for employers to hire non-union subcontractors, and allowing employers to dis-regard and not recognize unions.
DON’T GIVE UP HOPE
We can do this; I can help. I represented some of the biggest companies in the world. I helped create jobs as a local leader, attracting major businesses by investing in infrastructure and new technology. Under my leadership on the local level, buildings that were once closed for generations reopened, our town reached new levels of financial stability (under the tax cap!), and we filled dormant industrial space with new business.
Give me this job, and together we’ll get thousands more.
Nathan D. McMurray
Candidate for Congress in NY-27