The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• John F. Kennedy
Excerpts of an Address Delivered by Senator John F. Kennedy at Labor Day Rally, Flint, MI - (Advance Release Text)
September 5, 1960

* * * We must act and act promptly - to solve the problem of automation which threatens millions of Americans with technological unemployment.

We can do this in several ways.

First, we should convene a top level conference of industrial, union, and Government officials to seek ways of making full use of the great productive power of automation, while minimizing the impact on affected employees.

Second, we must make it plain that the installation of new machines is a proper subject of collective bargaining.

Third, the Government must offer technical assistance to companies which are trying to convert to new machinery without undue hardship to employees.

Fourth, we should expand the activities of the U.S. Employment Service to assist men who have been displaced by machines to find new employment. Today State agencies supported by Federal aid try to refer men to jobs in surrounding areas. But the problem of automation is a national problem - and we must begin to think about it on a national scale. We must anticipate the displacement of men by machines wherever it happens - and alert those affected to new job opportunities across the country.

Fifth, we must greatly expand our job training programs, to prepare men out of work in the new skills and techniques that will help them find new jobs.

Sixth, we must revise our outmoded unemployment compensation laws to allow men to receive full benefit payments while they are engaged in retraining programs.

Seventh and finally, we must restore full employment to our schedule of national priorities - striving - for a more rapid growth of the American economy - building purchasing power through better minimum wage and unemployment compensation laws - having faith in America's capacity to eventually provide a productive job for every man who wants to work.

This is our program - a program which can help transform the threat of automation into the promise of abundance - a program which will require leadership inspired by both compassion and courage - a program which will require from labor, management, and Government a willingness to accept new concepts, new burdens and new risks to meet the challenge of automation's new frontier. * * *

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Excerpts of an Address Delivered by Senator John F. Kennedy at Labor Day Rally, Flint, MI - (Advance Release Text)", September 5, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=60411.
 
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