Peter Cooper is the prgram coordinator with the California Labor Federation's Workforce & Economic Development program.

Employment Training Panel Announces New Labor Apprenticeship Partnership

On Friday, March 23rd, the California Employment Training Panel (ETP) approved guidelines that will enable the Panel to fund apprenticeship training for the first time in more than 16 years, expanding on the journey-level upgrade and pre-apprenticeship training it had previously been funding. The Panel also announced that it will work in partnership with the California Labor Federation and the State Building and Construction Trades Council to assist ETP in building awareness of the program among the state’s Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committees (JATCs) and advise ETP on program evaluation measures and potential program refinements.

WED Conference Takes ‘Building Workforce Partnerships’ to a New Level

The California Labor Federation's Workforce and Economic Development Program (WED) has once again raised the bar at its annual Building Workforce Partnerships (BWP) conference held this week in LA, where more than 400 labor leaders, workforce partners, and community activists are coming together to develop new ideas and paths to a healthier, greener economy and revitalized workforce.

BWP has gained national recognition as the largest workforce conference of its kind, where high road labor-management training partnerships are highlighted and workforce development, labor, academic, and community allies can come together to talk about workforce and economic development from a progressive perspective. This year, BWP is putting theory into practice in a new way by partnering with two national allies: the National Employment Law Project (NELP) and the BlueGreen Alliance.

2012 Building Workforce Partnerships Conference to Focus on Unemployment- Causes, Consequences & 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.

California Makes it Easier for Unemployed Workers to Qualify for Training Benefits and Keep UI Benefits

announced that it had successfully implemented changes to the California Training Benefits (CTB) program as result of legislation co-sponsored by the California Labor Federation last year. The measure, AB 2058 by Assemblyman Marty Block, expanded program eligibility for individuals attending school or training while collecting UI benefits.

The problem was that many unemployed workers who were eligible to get training decided not to do so for fear of losing their UI benefits. Prior automatically approved training was limited to programs funded by the Employment Training Panel, the federal Workforce Investment Act, CalWORKs, and the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act. A UI recipient seeking training not authorized under these funding sources had to endure a lengthy and confusing eligibility process through EDD that often delayed training, disrupted or suspended UI benefits, and sometimes even jeopardized an existing UI claim.

Out of Work, Out of Luck

If things don’t change in the next two weeks, workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own will also lose their Trade Adjustment Assistance Act benefits. These vital benefits provide much needed training, health care benefits (80 percent), and unemployment assistance (156 weeks) to workers who have lost their jobs due to foreign trade. Due to a technical drafting error in the U.S. Senate, this program is set to expire on February 13, 2011.

As one labor lobbyist put it, the TAA program is now the new “UI benefits extension” in the eyes of Republican members of Congress.   Just as the President had to make a deal on tax cuts in exchange for an extension of UI benefits, so too might he have to pass unwanted trade agreements in order to save the TAA program.