NFFE Civilian Conservation Corps Representatives Lobby their Elected Officials in Washington, DC
Last week, seven representatives from NFFE Locals 1840, 1855 and 1697 came to Washington, DC to lobby their members of Congress on issues impacting USFS Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) centers nationwide.
Led by the Forest Service Council’s CCC Vice President Larry E. King and NFFE Legislative Director Randy Erwin, the group visited nearly 50 Congressional offices over the course of just 4 days. In meetings with elected officials such as Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC), and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), to name a few, NFFE representatives shared a number of proposals for reforming the CCC under the upcoming Workforce Investment Act reauthorization.
The most important proposal would restructure the administration of the national Job Corps program. Currently, Job Corps and CCC centers are administered by the Department of Labor and Department of Agriculture (USDA), respectively. NFFE’s proposal would unite the programs’ administration under the USDA, reducing duplication of effort and streamlining operations in general.
Another important issue NFFE representatives lobbied for was an update of the CCC’s mission to include job training for veterans. In the early days of the CCC, part of its mission was to train World War I veterans returning from Europe. Under this new proposal, veterans would once again be given the opportunity to learn the job skills they need to thrive when returning from overseas. It also opens up new avenues for veterans looking to transition into public service as a civilian. More information on this and other NFFE CCC proposals can be found here.
“This was an outstanding opportunity to influence legislation on behalf of our union membership,” said Robert Barth, Secretary-Treasurer of NFFE Local 1840. “We believe that our proposed legislation will strengthen not only the Job Corps program, but the role and mission of the Civilian Conservation Corps.”
Established as part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930’s, the CCC played a crucial role in lifting our country out of the Great Depression. Focusing on the conservation and development of the nation’s natural resources, the program provided economic relief, rehabilitation and training for a total of three million workers.
In the decades since, the Job Corps program has been very successful at providing job training to disadvantaged youths throughout the nation, and placing them in meaningful employment. Today, CCC centers offer unique vocational trade options directly related to their conservation mission, such as forestry, natural resource management, and firefighting. This often leads directly to careers in federal land management agencies, as well as in the private sector. It is the members of NFFE Locals 1840, 1855, and 1697 that provide this essential service to our nation every day.
“Our union members are an invaluable resource, serving as mentors to disadvantaged youth seeking job training and public service opportunities,” said NFFE Local 1840 President Lance Hamann. “They provide the foundation for the character development of these youths, and I believe our elected officials recognize this commitment. It was a privilege to represent them in our nation’s capital this week.”
Special thanks to Larry King, Lisa Lewis, Shawn Patterson, Lance Hamann, Rob Barth, Michelle Marnhout, and Hugh Russell for their participation.