• Elliot Washor

Elliot Washor: "Are you with me now?" 1.22.21

Now that Joseph Biden is President, can we really do what has not been done before? As Kelly Candeale points out historically,

“One of the disappointing aspects of FDR’s presidential legacy was his inability or unwillingness to take on segregationist and white supremacist Democratic leaders in the South, many of whom controlled key New Deal Senate and Congressional committees. Conservative Democrats made sure agricultural workers were exempted from the Wagner Act, robbing them of union protection. And “domestic servants,” federal employees and agricultural laborers, sectors of the economy where large numbers of African Americans worked, were left uncovered by the Social Security Act signed by Roosevelt shortly after the Wagner Act in 1935. (20) This accommodation to Southern racism not only shaped the substance of the New Deal regime, it “morally crippled it.”

We are 85 years from FDR’s New Deal and as Einstein pointed out, the questions are the same but the answers are different. Can we come up with different answers that address the problems that are still with us today?

“More needs to be done and any new public infrastructure money coming to states has to have racial equity tied to the funding. Iron Worker President Dean agrees that the building trades were justifiably seen in the past as primarily for white males. “It’s a reputation we probably earned twenty to thirty years ago but we don’t deserve it today. We are not our grandfather’s union,” he said. Newly appointed Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, who was formerly the head of the Boston Building Trades unions as well as Mayor of Boston, can lead the charge on racial equity on public infrastructure projects.”

Our work at the Harbor Freight Fellows Initiative aligns with the infrastructure work that is about to unfold. It is our hope that the work we do on new measures and programs like HFF’s, Project insight’s and ImBlaze get recognized as key parts of this emerging New Deal where programs reach into high school and are inclusive of young people who want to do this work. We can make this a reality and not just rhetoric.

El’s HFF interview of the week

I had a great talk with Caden, a Harbor Freight Fellow from South Carolina. Our HFF pattern held true. HFF Caden has meaningful full-time work from his fellowship. He used his social capital, honed his skills and maintained his interest. Simple.

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