Ryan Introduces the Worker Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an effort to address prominent challenges to American labor and job markets, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, reintroduced the Working on Rewarding and Keeping Employees Resilient, or WORKER Act.

Dubbed the “GI Bill for American Workers,” the act addresses jobs, wage stagnation and continued layoffs as a result of outsourcing and automation. This follows his release last year of the “Putting America Back to Work” report, which outlines 21st century economic challenges.

“The new American economy does not exist in the past, but in the future. Our economy continues to change, but many of our friends, neighbors and family members continue to grapple with a lack of jobs, wage stagnation, or continued layoffs. While the economy is humming along nicely for the top wage-earners in our society, it is broken for just about everyone else,” Ryan said in a prepared statement. “The bill addresses the rise of automation and technological advancements beginning with the education of our students, sustaining them with resources for continuous training and job security, and increasing investment in distressed communities to create jobs.”

The Worker Act is co-authored by U.S. Reps. Ro Khanna, D-17 California; Yvette D. Clarke, D-9 New York; Bennie G. Thompson D-2 Mississippi; Darren Soto, D-9 Florida, and is endorsed by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the United Automobile Workers.

“We recognize that the WORKER Act will advance the American economy for the betterment of all American people regardless of demographic or political affiliation,” said Ramiro Cavazos, president and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “This bill takes important steps towards providing distressed communities, underrepresented minorities, women, and all American workers with the skills and opportunities necessary to thrive in the modern economy.”

Provisions in the bill include:

  • Gives our children the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century by creating grant programs to support engineering and engineering technology education programs in elementary and secondary schools. It also expands maker education and makerspaces in schools.
  • Promotes and expands registered apprenticeships to encourage industry growth, competitiveness and collaboration to improve worker training, retention and advancement in targeted infrastructure clusters.
  • Establishes a Registered Apprenticeship-College Collaborative to promote stronger relationships between registered apprenticeship programs and two and four-year post-secondary educational institutions.
  • Encourages greater diversity in registered apprenticeship programs through outreach to under-represented populations, youth and veterans.
  • Incentivizes re-employment by creating a re-employment bonus for individuals currently receiving unemployment benefits.
  • Eases the wage transition for older workers by creating wage insurance for individuals 50 and over. And in economically distressed communities for individuals 45 and over.
  • Creates a training voucher for $8,000 to ensure every American can attend a short-term training program to receive the skills necessary to succeed.
  • Makes finding a job easier for families who are struggling with everyday challenges like transportation and child care by providing a stipend for income support services.
  • Establishes a new department within the Department of Commerce with the mission of promoting, establishing and strengthening venture capital investment in distressed communities, including expenses of grants, contracts and other agreements with public or private entities.
  • Designates that the Department of Commerce and the Secretary of Commerce should now be known as the Department of Innovation and Investment and Secretary of Innovation and Investment.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.