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.
The first day of the conference was co-developed and run by WED and NELP, and the focus of the day was “Unemployed in America: Causes, Consequences, Solutions”. Christine Owens, NELP's director, moderated both plenary sessions and secured Jared Bernstein, former senior advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, to keynote the event.
Today is the second day and the end of the traditional WED conference, but it's also the beginning of the BlueGreen Alliance Conference, called “Good Jobs, Green Jobs” (GJGJ). Teamsters General President James Hoffa and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa kicked off the day by welcoming BWP and GJGJ participants, and then BWP and GJGJ held a joint plenary featuring California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski, Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, and Ron Nichols, director of the L.A. Department of Water and Power. The panelists focused on the potential for climate change efforts to jumpstart the economy. The discussion ranged from climate policy in California to economic drivers for creating California jobs and high-road job training programs.
The 2012 Building Workforce Partnerships conference is taking coalition-building to a new level in order to confront the economic challenges and move to a sustainable future. We're not just talking about partnerships, we're actually making them. As we've been hearing throughout the conference, “We are all in this together”.