Workers would get assistance in upgrading their skills and communities could create good green jobs and build infrastructure under legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate last week. The American Worker and Community Assistance Act (S. 2742), co-sponsored by Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), would provide job training and support to workers and also would help communities adapt to a changing economy.
There is tremendous potential in clean energy technology and manufacturing, but we must give workers the skills to succeed and employers must have access to a skilled workforce. Legislation being considered by Congress to combat global warming can reduce our dependence on foreign energy, increase our security and create a better world for our children. However, we also have a responsibility to our workers, industries and communities who may be affected by the shift in the economy.
The bill would protect workers and communities during the transition that could be sparked as a result of climate legislation. It would provide assistance such as job training assistance, wage replacement and health benefits replacement.
The bill also provides temporary income support to workers who lose jobs due to climate change policy. That income support may continue for a maximum of 156 weeks—enough time for workers to return to school and get training to help them find a new job that provides decent, family-sustaining wages and benefits.
As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says:
It is essential that workers and communities impacted by climate change policy be provided with the tools to transition into the new clean energy economy and the millions of new jobs that stand to be created.
The training programs will focus on the development of skills related to the rehabilitation of environmentally troubled areas and creating new renewable and efficient energy.