Get On The Bridge - 17 November 2011

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Get On The Bridge: We Declare a State of Economic Emergency for the 99%



On Nov. 17th, we will declare an economic emergency for the 99%:

  • 25 million Americans are looking for work, but Congress won’t pass a jobs bill
  • Super-Committee budget cuts could kill millions more jobs
  • This economy works for the richest 1%, not the 99%

The Steel Bridge [1], which was built and always owned by Union Pacific Railroad, [2] is structurally deficient (how?) and in need of repair. This is work that needs doing, even while thousands in Portland are unemployed!

Bridges like this one are symbols of politicians’ failure to pass a jobs bill or do anything to help the 99%, while the richest 1% keep getting richer.

On Nov. 17th, we say enough is enough. We can’t wait any longer.

Get on the bridge!

Other details

What was the Works Progress Administration?

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) employed 2.7 million Americans in 1935, 2.3 million in 1936, 1.7 million in 1937 and 2.9 million in 1938. Over 9.7 million jobless Americans received WPA paychecks over those four years.

Due to the growth in our nation's workforce, if the WPA was re-enacted today, the equivalent numbers would be 7.7 million in 2012, 6.5 million in 2013, 4.9 million in 2014 and 8.3 million in 2015. That totals 27.4 million - 1.7 million or so less than our real unemployment level in October 2011.

What did the WPA do?

According to American-Made, a book by Nick Taylor, the Works Progress Administration:

  • built 650,000 miles of roads, 78,000 bridges, 125,000 civilian and military buildings, 800 airports built, improved or enlarged, 700 miles of airport runways;
  • served almost 900 million hot lunches to schoolchildren and operated 1,500 nursery schools;
  • presented 225,000 concerts to audiences totaling 150 million;
  • performed plays, vaudeville acts, puppet shows, and circuses before 30 million people; and
  • produced 475,000 works of art and at least 276 full-length books and 701 pamphlets.

Taylor wrote that the statistics were "silent on the transformation of the infrastructure that occurred, the modernization of the country, the malnutrition defeated and the educational prospects gained, the new horizons opened."

We did it once. Let’s do it now!

The WPA built a stronger, more interconnected and more modern nation. It followed President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s promise that the work would have a "lasting impact on the nation." And it did.

From the Timberline Lodge on Oregon's Mt. Hood, the Newton County Courthouse in Jasper, Arkansas to the National Guard Armory in San Jose, California, from the Pioneer Bowl in Minot, North Dakota to the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas, the WPA left its mark upon our land.

At a total cost of $10.5 billion - the equivalent of $130.9 billion today - it rescued a nation from the Great Depression and saved 8.6 million Americans from the pangs of poverty and destitution.

We can put an end to this Grave Recession. We can put millions to work each year. We can hire them to modernize, strengthen and connect our service economy. We can use their skills to revitalize and renovate our manufacturing and transportation sectors. And we can push the President of the United States and the Congress to give us a chance to prove what Americans can do when the chips are down.

We Are Oregon
St. Johns Community Action Network
SEIU Local 503
Portland Rising
Portland Jobs With Justice
CWA Local 7901
SEIU Local 49 Portland Council
Laborers’ Local 483
Our Oregon
Economic Fairness Oregon
Oregon Action
Unified Labor Committee
More Info