2012 Building Workforce Partnerships Conference to Focus on Unemployment- Causes, Consequences &amp; Solutions

Every year, the California Labor Federation’s Workforce and Economic Development Program (WED) puts on a multi-day 'Building Workforce Partnerships' conference that highlights new strategies for using high-road partnerships to build the labor movement. This year the conference theme is: “Unemployment in America: Causes, Consequences, Solutions.” The event will be held March 13th-14th at the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles.

Anyone with a pulse and half a heart knows that chronic unemployment is tearing our communities and society apart; and we are left wondering, “Has it bottomed out? Is double-digit unemployment the new, accepted norm? How can we come together to help those most hurt and how do we find a way forward?” This year’s conference will tackle these questions head-on.

The subject of discussion could not be more timely: Policy makers at all levels are struggling to find answers to these questions and solutions to this jobs crisis. On the federal level, unemployment insurance as we know it is on the chopping block. Tea Party Republicans are leading the charge to reduce coverage and throw up barriers to benefits like GED requirement. One proposal that is being considered will even make jobless workers pay for their re-employment services — How’s that for kicking someone when they're down?  

On the state level, California’s UI fund is $10 billion dollars in the red as we face the second highest unemployment rate in the nation. In December, the national unemployment rate was 8.5% and California’s rate was 11.1%. Communities in the Central Valley continue to be shackled with the worst unemployment crisis in decades – in Imperial County, 26.8 percent of adults are unemployed. Long-term unemployment is on the rise, and now employers are discriminating against unemployed citizens and using hiring practices that shut out applicants who are not currently employed. What ever happened to the role of businesses as job creators?

At the Building Workforce Partnerships conference, we will look at best practices, policy ideas, and different ways that progressive organizations have come together to support workers and communities. We will highlight not only the great work that is going on in California but also examples from across the nation. The content will challenge participants to think creatively, or rethink the roles of community advocates, labor, the private sector, and government. The conference has over twenty workshops grouped in the following tracks: Unemployment, Layoff Aversion & Rapid Response, and High Road Training Strategies. Download our brochure to view the conference agenda and list of workshops.

The premier national progressive organization with a focus on employment issues – the National Employment Law Project (NELP) – is co-sponsoring the event and drawing in some great speakers to talk about the state of the economy and unemployment, including:

  • Jared Bernstein, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (former Chief Economic Advisor to Vice President Joe Biden), who will deliver the keynote address
  • Robby Hunter, LA/Orange County Building and Construction Trades
  • Chris Owens, Executive Director, National Employment Law Project
  • Harold Meyerson, Editor-at-Large, The American Prospect
  • and more!

This year, we are proud to partner with the Blue-Green Alliance, a national environmental-labor partnership dedicated to creating a sustainable climate future for our country. For the first time, WED conference attendees will get free admission to the Blue-Green Alliance's regional “Good Jobs, Green Jobs” conference (at the same hotel, directly following the WED conference). There will be joint plenary session on Thursday morning, March 14th, featuring L.A. Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa and California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski.

Visit http://www.wed-works.org to learn more and register online. The early-bird registration deadline is TOMORROW, February 10th (after that, the fee will increase). If you're interested in attending the Blue-Green Alliance conference on March 15 & 16 for free, simply select the add-on at registration (no need to register separately).

Hotel accommodations are available at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel at a reduced rate for conference attendees. To book your room, call 1.888.627.8520 or click here to book your hotel reservations online. If you have any questions, contact Martha Bader at 510.663.4082.

I hope to see you there!