Ryan Introduces Worker Act, Calls for ‘Bold Action’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Calling for “bold action” to remedy the skills gap among the nation’s workforce, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13, Ohio, has introduced legislation that he says addresses the needs of men, women and communities most affected by layoffs caused by outsourcing, automation and other economic factors.

“The new American economy does not exist in the past, but in the future,” Ryan said in a statement. “Our economy continues to change, but many of our friends, neighbors, and family members continue to grapple with a lack of jobs, wage stagnation, and continued layoffs.”

On Thursday, Ryan introduced his Working on Rewarding and Keeping Employees Resilient, or Worker Act, which provides pathways to help young people excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, disciplines.

He summarized the legislation is a 24-page report his office titled “Putting American Back to Work: A Comprehensive, Worker-Focused Response to the Economic Disruption Caused by Automation and Globalization.”

Among the highlights are:

  • Grant programs to support engineering and engineering technology education in elementary and secondary schools, as well as expansion of maker spaces.
  • Prioritizes and supports programs that increase the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM programs.
  • Expansion of apprenticeship programs by promoting public-private partnerships geared toward encouraging industry growth, competitiveness and collaboration to improve worker training.
  • Creates incentives through the establishment of re-employment bonuses for individuals currently receiving unemployment benefits.
  • Wage insurance for individuals 50 and over, and 45 and older in distressed communities.
  • A training voucher of $8,000 to ensure every American can attend a short-term training program to receive the skills necessary to succeed.
  • A stipend for income support services such as child care and transportation.
  • Establishment of a new department within the U.S. Department of Commerce that promotes and strengthens venture capital investment in distressed communities, including expenses for grants, contracts, and other agreements with public or private entities.
  • Change the name of the Department of Commerce to the Department of Innovation and Investment, and designate the Secretary of Commerce as Secretary of Innovation and Investment.

“We need bold action,” Ryan stated. “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,” he said.

Ryan’s legislation comes as he stirs speculation of a potential presidential bid in 2020 and his summary of it reads like a campaign position statement. At the same time, he faces the best organized Republican challenge to his seat in Congress with attorney Chris DePizzo, an attorney and 2005 graduate of Cardinal Mooney High School here.

U.S. Reps. Ro Khanna, D-17, CA; Linda Sanchez, D-38, CA; Sheila Jackson Lee, D-18, Texas; Yvette Clarke, D-9, NY; Gwen Moore, D-4, WI; and Colleen Hanabusa, D-1, Hawaii, are the original co-sponsors of the bill.

The National Skills Coalition, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the NAACP have endorsed the legislation.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.