Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks at the Swearing In of W. J. Usery, Jr., as Secretary of Labor.

February 10, 1976

Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Secretary-designate, Bill Usery, distinguished members of the Cabinet, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

Let me welcome you most heartily here on this very fine occasion and to indicate to you at the conclusion of my remarks in the swearing in, I welcome all of you to join us in the State Dining Room for some refreshments.

There can be no doubt whatsoever as to the capability and the ability of Bill Usery to handle this very important job at this very crucial time. We just have to take a good, hard look at his impressive credentials, the record he built up over so many years in successfully mediating complex, controversial differences between both labor and management.

Everybody who has had any experience with Bill in this field, and those who have watched from the outside, know that he is trusted and respected by labor and management because he understands the needs as well as the concerns of both.

Bill has had a very outstanding record in the field of both labor as well as labor-management relations. He served for many years as a representative of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers of the


He was appointed Assistant Secretary of Labor for Labor-Management Relations in 1969 and did a superb job in that responsibility. In 1973 he became the Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and he has been my Special Assistant for Labor-Management Relations--or Negotiations--since the day that I took office.

Bill Usery assumes this responsibility of great leadership at the Department of Labor at a very challenging time. As we look at the labor contracts expiring in 1976, we know that twice as many workers are having their contracts expire this year as last year. Some very key industries are involved--rubber, trucking, auto, electrical manufacturing, construction, as well as many others.

I think the success of our program of steady, balanced economic recovery will depend significantly on reaching commonsense labor-management agreements without prolonged major work stoppages and without inflationary settlements.

One of our top priorities--it is a job of all of us--is finding more jobs for more Americans. We must generate real, permanent, fulfilling jobs, not Government-sponsored jobs that make work but do not make a future.

This is important for America, as well as all Americans. Permanent jobs have to be generated primarily by a steady, balanced growth of our private sector, where five out of the six jobs exist today in our society.

It seems to me, as we look at recent statistics, that the steady approach is already yielding convincing results. We know from the statistics released last week by the Department of Labor that we now have more than 2 million people gainfully employed than we had last March, at the depth of the recession.

We also know that the largest monthly decline in the jobless rate in over 16 years took place between January of this year and December of last year. The record is not as good as we want it, and the record is going to be better, but we can be encouraged, and properly so, by the results of this last month's report.

In the meantime, as we have an unemployment rate that is still too high, we will continue those proven job training and opportunity programs, such as CETA, as we work our way out of this economic problem and as we work our way to total economic recovery.

I know that Bill Usery has had a very long-standing, deep, and sincere interest in helping unemployed young people, in helping veterans; and I can assure you that Bill will give his maximum attention to the whole spectrum of jobs for Americans.

We have a prime priority, all of us, those in government as well as out of government, to make certain and positive that our economic recovery program proceeds with the right focus, with the right energy, and certainly, with the right results.

Bill, it is a privilege for me to ask Chief Justice Warren Burger to administer the oath at this time.

Note: The President spoke at 2:10 p.m. at a ceremony in the East Room at the White House.
Secretary Usery's response to the President's remarks is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 12, p. 174).

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks at the Swearing In of W. J. Usery, Jr., as Secretary of Labor. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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