By Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE -- John Ratzenberger, better known in Boston as his character Cliff Clavin from Cheers, returned to the spot where everyone is supposed to know his name to try and build awareness around a new non-profit he has formed called the Foundation for America.
Ratzenberger, who appeared upstairs at the Hampshire House above the Cheers bar on Beacon Street, hopes to build support for training young people in skilled jobs like carpentry and manufacturing, a movement he described as "nothing less than the second American revolution."
Senate Majority Leader Stanley Rosenberg, Rep. Dan Ryan, of Charlestown, and officials from Associated Industries of Massachusetts, including AIM President Rich Lord, attended the small meet-and-greet on Beacon Hill.
>>> For video clips of Ratzenberger's event, go to: http://www.statehousenews.com/video/14-07-14jr/ <<<
Ratzenberger said that in additional to his acting career and degree in English, he was also a carpenter.
"Kids come out of high school without the ability to read a ruler, let alone know what a crescent wrench is or a ball-peen hammer because in their entire lives they've never had to do any of that," Ratzenberger said.
The former TV sitcom star said he's hoping his non-partisan foundation will be able to raise money to support school districts and non-profit organizations around the country to teach kids trade skills that are disappearing from the workforce, and hopes to gain enough publicity to catapult the issue into the national spotlight during the 2016 presidential election.
"America will run out of people who know how to do things in six to eight years," Ratzenberger said, estimating that there are 600,000 manufacturing jobs available across the country that can't be filled because of a lack of skilled labor.
He continued, "Before you take public office in this country, whether it's mayor, governor, president, you should be required to assemble a coffee table from IKEA. If you can't do that, what are you doing passing laws that affect me and my family."
Rosenberg said he supported Ratzenberger's efforts, and also said, "Absolutely," when asked if he could build an IKEA coffee table.
"I think he's spot on. We've been trying to deal with that here in Massachusetts. There are about 180,000 jobs that are going unfilled and many of them are the kinds of people he's talking about," Rosenberg said. "They need education and training and to know that they can actually earn a living wage and get there and help build these companies."