Congressman Tim Ryan Introduces the WORKER Act
Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) today introduced a sweeping economic bill aimed at resolving prominent challenges to American labor and job markets. The Working on Rewarding and Keeping Employees Resilient (WORKER) Act focuses on workforce development and supporting the American worker by addressing jobs, wage stagnation, and continued layoffs as a result of outsourcing and automation. Congressman Ryan also released a comprehensive report titled Putting America Back To Work, which outlines of some of the twenty-first century’s greatest challenges towards our changing economy.
“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. The system no longer works for the American worker. We need bold action. My WORKER Act is just that. 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,” said Congressman Ryan. “For being the wealthiest nation on earth, too many Americans are struggling with the realities of everyday life—paying their bills, caring for their family, putting food on the table, and keeping a roof over their head. The future of our economy, and of the American Dream, rests on our ability to alleviate this struggle by innovating and creating new, good-paying jobs where they are needed most. The WORKER Act will do just that.”
Representatives Ro Khanna (CA-17), Linda Sanchez (CA-38), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Yvette Clarke (NY-9), Gwen Moore (WI-4), and Colleen Hanabusa (HI-1) were original cosponsors of the legislation, which was also endorsed by the National Skills Coalition, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the NAACP.
“We recognize that the WORKER Act will advance the American economy for the betterment of all American people regardless of demographic or political affiliation. 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,” United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Interim President & CEO, Fernand Fernandez.
“More than half of all jobs are middle-skill, but far fewer workers are trained at this level. The WORKER Act would help workers develop the skills business need and provides support for services like child care, transportation and pre-apprenticeship programs that can be crucial to a diverse pipeline of workers with access to and success in middle-skill jobs,” Katie Spiker, Senior Federal Policy Analyst, National Skills Coalition.
The WORKER Act takes bold action to empower the American workforce and their families by making provisions for some of the following:
- 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.
- Prioritizes and supports programs that increase the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM occupations.
- Expands apprenticeships by promoting public-private partnerships to encourage industry growth, competitiveness and collaboration to improve worker training, retention and advancement in targeted infrastructure clusters.
- Incentivizes reemployment by creating a reemployment 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 know be known as the Department of Innovation and Investment and Secretary of Innovation and Investment.
You may also read the full report, Putting America Back To Work, here.