Speaking at the Labor Summit sponsored by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), IAM President Tom Buffenbarger urged a renewed focus on a 21st Century Works Progress Administration (WPA).
“Between 1935 and 1938, over 9.7 million jobless Americans received WPA pay-checks,” said Buffenbarger. “The WPA offered average Americans a chance to prove themselves, work hard, and ensure their families’ financial security. They grabbed at the chance. We’re still driving on the roads and bridges they built. We’re still flying into the airports they constructed. And we’re still admiring the photographs taken, stage plays produced and books written.”
Buffenbarger’s remarks preceded release of the DGA report, “Creating Jobs, Putting People Back to Work, and Turning Our Economy Around,” which included a WPA-style jobs initiative. The report also calls for policies that establish a strong Buy American Act, discourage the outsourcing of American jobs, strengthens U.S. trade laws, creates a national manufacturing policy and develops skills training programs – all points included in the 21-point jobs plan, Hire US, America, and crafted by unemployed members of the Union of Unemployed in 2010.
“The WPA was an opportunity to modernize our country even in the midst of the Depression,” explained Buffenbarger. “If we could do it then, we can do it now.”