74 years ago, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed guaranteed full employment for every American. Now, that dream is morphing into policy.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) announced Monday that his office will soon roll out proposed legislation that would guarantee every American citizen a job paying at least $15 an hour with healthcare benefits and paid family leave included. Americans who would work in these jobs would also receive all retirement, sick leave, and other benefits given to other federal employees.
According to the Washington Post, Sen. Sanders’ full employment proposal would address America’s infrastructure and other needs, putting Americans to work in various sectors ranging from the environment to education, organized by geographical regions:
Under the early draft of Sanders’s job guarantee, local, state, and American Indian tribe governments in every section of the country would send proposals for public works projects for their areas to 12 regional offices that encompass the country. These 12 regional offices would act as a clearinghouse for these projects, tasked with sending recommended projects to a new national office within the Labor Department office for final approval.
Sen. Sanders’ proposal would bring to fruition the chief proposal in FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights, which the four-term president proposed in his State of the Union speech in January of 1944, calling for “the right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation.”
Other economic rights FDR proposed in his speech are also campaign promises Sen. Sanders ran on in his 2016 campaign for the White House, including “the right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation,” (Sanders’ $15/hour proposal) “the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health,” (Sanders’ Medicare for All proposal) and “the right to a good education.” (Sanders’ tuition-free public college proposal)
Connecting Americans to good-paying jobs has been on Sen. Sanders’ recent agenda as well. On Monday, Sanders met with several hundred high school students in his home state of Vermont to speak with them about job training and apprenticeship programs.
“College is not for everyone, and not every decent-paying job requires a college degree,” Sanders was quoted saying. “For those of you thinking of going into the workforce, you may also have lots of questions. Do you know what jobs are out there, what skills you need, and how to get those skills? Did you know that, in some cases, you can learn on the job, while getting paid? Or that some employers will pay for your job-training tuition?”
As of this writing, there are no details available on the cost of Sanders’ full employment legislation or the proposed timeline for rolling out and implementing full employment on a nationwide scale.
Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.