AKRON, OH –Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a roundtable discussion at the Tri-County Regional Labor Council in Akron as he prepares to introduce legislation to provide critical resources to workers when companies decide to adopt new technology that will affect their jobs. Brown is set to introduce the Workers’ Right to Training Act of 2019 when Congress reconvenes and will be talking to Ohioans across the state about his bill and ways to support workers in the face of increased automation.

“No matter how technology changes, Ohio workers will always be our greatest resource,” said Brown. “But right now, too many workers are left behind when companies decide to adopt new technology. We must work to ensure that workers aren’t treated as a cost to be minimized but rather treated with the dignity they’ve earned to have an equal say in how best to implement new technology in the workplace.”

Brown’s Workers’ Right to Training Act will benefit workers by requiring companies to provide advance notice of any technology changes that may affect workers’ jobs and provide training to these workers in advance of adopting the new technology.

Brown was joined at the roundtable by labor organizations and worker advocates, including David Prentice, Executive Secretary Treasurer, Tri-County Regional Labor Council, AFL-CIO, CLC.

“For far too long people have been replaced by technology and left to their own devices to feed their families. It is way past due that we take care of our workers. Technology is a double-edged sword, both good and bad, but we must train workers in these technological changes. Sherrod Brown is always welcome in the house of labor. Once again, he has our back, and we will always have his. We are blessed to have a United States Senator who cares this much about working women and men,” said Prentice.

Specifically, Brown’s bill would:

  • Require companies to provide 180 days advanced notice to workers when new technology will change employment positions and provide 270 days advanced notice if jobs will be eliminated. Employers must bargain directly with employees on how best to implement new technology.
  • Require employers to pay for and provide on-the-job training to any employees who will be affected by the introduction of new technology. Companies must either provide training to employees whose jobs will change as a result of new technology or to employees who will lose their job to help these workers obtain a different position at a similar company. 
  • Require employers to provide six-month severance to all workers who lose their jobs as a result of new technology.

By mandating employers consult and compensate employees whose jobs are changed or lost due to technology, the Workers’ Right to Training Act will ensure the adoption of technology in the workplace will be done in a just way for workers.  By helping workers affected by technology to receive the training they need, the bill will also help to ensure the U.S. workforce remains high-skilled and capable of competing in a global economy.