Labor-only workforce partnerships got a boost today when Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced a bill that would provide the Department of Labor with authority to issue grant money for “industry or sector partnerships.” According to the bill’s language, this program to fund training in industry sectors will, “improve worker training, retention, and advancement in targeted industry cluster.” Closer reading of the bill shows that any “Industry or Sector Partnership” must include organized labor to be eligible for the grant funds. This provision would effectively freeze out 87% of the construction industry from grant money funded by their own tax dollars.
Stakeholder collaboration (employers, training providers, educational institutions and government agencies) is vital to growing workforce training programs that deliver results. However, we believe in equal access to critical craft training funds. Freezing out most of the construction industry from participating in training programs does not reflect a commitment to improving America’s skilled workforce.