The Blog of the Frances Perkins Center

The New New Deal and the 21st Century Workforce

In Legislation Today on December 6, 2008 at 10:00 am

The Frances Perkins Center is working on the agenda for a conference May 2nd at the Hutchinson Center in Belfast, Maine. (Email bburt@francesperkinscenter.org to get on the list for information.) Yesterday, I met with Maine’s Commissioner of Labor, Laura Fortman, and Deputy Commissioner of Labor, Jane Gilbert, to discuss potential conference topics. Our ideas centered around what’s being called the “New New Deal,” focusing specifically on the changes in the U.S. workforce since 1933 and how this new version of a works progress program would affect workers who didn’t fit the 1933 profile.

Today, President-elect Obama released a YouTube and radio address that speaks directly about what he’s considering in this 2009 stimulus package:

To recap what President-elect Obama says, there are the three major pieces of the package at this point:

a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient.

the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s.

a sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings that this country has ever seen. As we renew our schools and highways, we’ll also renew our information superhighway.

Those are important goals. But as we look at the kinds of jobs they’ll create and the workers who will benefit from those jobs, we need to ask ourselves, “Who is being left out?” Will part-time workers benefit? Will women workers be fully represented? Will “contract” workers get any help? How can we make sure that the benefits of a stimulus package reach the broadest possible spectrum of workers?

That’s what we’ll be considering on May 2nd.

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