About Workforce and Economic Development (WED)

OUR Workforce & Economic Development Program (WED) is another means by which we empower workers by creating “High-Road Partnerships” and assist unions in responding to economic and labor market changes. High-Road Partnerships bring together unions, employers, communities, foundations, and governments to create and retain good jobs with successful employers in strong communities. Unions bring their expertise in training and placing workers, as well as their role as a voice for workers who have the greatest insight into how to make their work more effective.

WED’s main objectives are to promote Labor’s inclusion in the training and education of its members, to save good jobs, to foster the creation of new, high-road jobs and career pathways for California workers, and to help build an integrated, strategic, high-road focused California workforce system.

Below are major areas of WED’s work.

Brokering Workforce Training Partnerships
Over the last three years, WED’s partnership with the State Building Trades Council, local Building Trades Councils (BTCs), local affiliates and joint apprenticeship training programs, has resulted in the expansion of the National Building Trades’, Multi-craft Core Curriculum (MC3) pre-apprenticeship construction program. The MC3 has become the go-to program for apprenticeship-preparation throughout the state. Successful MC3 programs help put the Building Trades in the driver’s seat for the development of their own future workforce, while serving as potential leverage for Project Labor Agreements (PLAs), California has become a national model for the right way to do pre-apprenticeship.

Through a partnership with the California Department of Education’s California Partnership Academies (CPAs), seven high schools in California now utilize, in partnership with local building trades, the MC3 curriculum. The seven schools-within-schools provide contextualized learning to at-risk students.

In 2015, WED and the California Department of Education worked with the teachers of these programs, along with representatives from the South Bay Building Trades Council and the University of California-Curriculum Institute, to enable students in the program to receive A-G college prep credit. Now students in the program will be able to either enter a registered apprentice program and/or have met the requirements for entrance to the University of California or California State University systems.

The partnerships between the local BTCs and the high schools have also served to strengthen relationships between the local building trades and area school districts. Recently, the Monterey-Santa Cruz Buildings Trades Council was able to leverage the Salinas High School pilot into the establishment of a PLA with the Salinas School District.

Local Building Trades Councils are partnering with the following seven high schools:
Salinas High School – Monterey-Santa Cruz BTC
Soquel High School – Monterey-Santa Cruz BTC
Arvin High School – Kern, Inyo, Mono BTC
Arroyo Valley High School – Riverside – San Bernardino BTC
Norte Vista High School – Riverside – San Bernardino BTC
Hoover High School – San Diego BTC
North County Trade Tech HS – San Diego BTC

WED has also provided technical assistance and supported the funding of local BTCs and workforce partners to establish regional MC3 programs in the East Bay, Santa Clara/San Mateo, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Fresno/Central Valley, North Bay and Santa Cruz/Monterey.

Securing Resources for High Road Partnerships
We are helping unions get access to training funds to be sure their members are the most productive workers in their fields, which allows them to beat the “low road” in competition, and provide new career ladder opportunities. Since 2012, WED has enabled signatory employers and joint-labor management training programs and Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC’s) to be awarded over $24 million in contracts with the California Employment Training Panel (ETP). ETP funds have supported the training of union members in construction, hospitality, building services, mass transit and maritime.

As one part of its efforts, ETP awarded $1.3 million in Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program funding created by AB 118 to the California Labor Federation in 2015. This funding is providing the training for over 1,600 mechanics and bus operators in three transit agencies in California. WED worked with the unions representing transit workers at L.A. Metro (ATU 1277), Santa Clara VTA (ATU 265) and Alameda/Contra Costa Transit District (ATU 192) to secure this funding to provide advanced technology training for bus mechanics working with energy efficient and green transportation vehicles and equipment. WED is currently pursuing additional funding for other ATU agencies to continue this important training.

WED has also been working with affiliates, the Division of Apprenticeship Standards, local educational agencies and the Department of Labor to develop new apprenticeship programs outside of construction. With WED’s support, new manufacturing apprentice programs developed by International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers were awarded funding to help create apprenticeship opportunities in the East Bay and Central Valley (Fresno), and the Amalgamated Transit Union created 4 new apprentice programs in bus operations and bus/rail mechanics in Santa Clara County. WED is currently working with affiliates to create apprenticeship programs in hospitality, child-care, and healthcare.

Promoting Sector Strategies – Supporting High Road Job Creation and Sustainable Economic Development
California leads the nation in economic growth driven by responsible policy, world-class research, innovation, and investment. Emerging growth sectors bring transition, rich with opportunities for good jobs. We need a skilled workforce with opportunities for career mobility to retain homegrown jobs and to accrue the benefits of development. To ensure this reality, California needs a clear economic and workforce development roadmap that identifies key growth industries, including sectors with strong union density and organizing opportunities.
Unions have a long tradition of driving progress in their industries with cutting-edge skills training and strategic alliances that keep workers productive and employers competitive. To ensure that quality jobs and the rewards to state investment stay in California, WED works to connect unions with state agencies responsible for implementing job creation policy in growth industries such as healthcare, the green economy and manufacturing. WED helps unions stay informed about the impacts of potential workforce policies, and helps to develop policy that ensures that public funds are aligned with the principles of labor-management programs.

State and Local Workforce Investment Boards
On July 22, 2014, President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to amend and reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA), which supports the nation’s primary programs and investments in employment services, workforce development, adult education, and vocational rehabilitation activities. WED has worked at the state and local level to insure the inclusion of Labor in planning and implementation of WIOA. Most recently, WED has begun work with local labor representatives of local workforce boards to begin a “job quality” campaign to implement policies and priorities that support only high road partnership activities at the state and local levels.
California’s workforce development boards administer nearly $500 million in annual federal WIOA funds, as well as millions more in state and local job training, career tech, worker assistance, and community development resources. California is the only state that requires 15 percent labor representation on local WDBs.

WED works with Central Labor Councils and the Building and Construction Trades Councils, to recruit labor leaders to serve on local WDBs. WED holds frequent regional trainings for labor workforce development board members. The main goals for local labor representatives serving on local boards are to: 1) improve oversight and accountability for the use and expenditure of public dollars; 2) establish worker-centered local and regional policy and investment; 3) expand sector-based labor-management training programs; and 4) prioritize training for career pathways to good high wage jobs.

Layoff Aversion and Serving Dislocated Workers
A critical part of WED’s work is helping unions respond when their members are impacted by a layoff. The first response is to avert or stop the layoff through worker-management coordination, access to economic development resources, and targeted skills training. When aversion is not possible, WED connects unions with public resources for dislocated workers, including retraining to assist with reemployment. WED also provides frequent regional trainings for local workforce development board staff on working with unions when layoffs impact union workers.