WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) wrapped up a statewide tour 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 spoke with Ohioans across the state about his bill and ways to support workers in the face of increased automation as he is set to introduce the Workers’ Right to Training Act of 2019 when Congress reconvenes next week.
Brown’s tour included stops in Akron, Lima, Mansfield, St. Clairsville, Youngstown and Toledo.
Here’s what Ohio workers had to say about Brown’s bill:
“For far too long people have been replaced by technology and left to their own devices to feed their families.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 David Prentice, Executive Secretary Treasurer, Tri-County Regional Labor Council, AFL-CIO, CLC.
“Sherrod Brown has created a bill that is vital to our future as inevitable changes in technology threaten to negatively impact our workforce. Highly trained, highly skilled employees will soon be looked upon as antiquated, disposable assets as employers push hard to integrate automated technology. Not only is this unfair, but it destroys the relationship we fight to maintain with our employer. Mutual respect and placing high value on human contributions in the workplace, is of utmost importance, whether the employee is hourly, salary employees, union or non-union,” said Mike Copeland, President, UAW Local 1219.
“With each passing day, an increasing number of jobs in our country are at risk of elimination due to automation. The Union members of the Mahoning Valley are thankful that Senator Brown is planning ahead to protect workers and their families with the introduction of the Worker’s Right to Training Act,” said Bill Padisak, President of the Mahoning-Trumbull AFL-CIO.
“Mid Ohio Area Labor Council supports Senator Sherrod Brown and is honored to sit down along with local labor leaders and discuss Senator Brown new legislation to protect employees’ jobs. Advancement in technology helps improve working conditions and efficiency, this is very important to the workforce, so is retaining employment,” said Norm Shoemaker, President, Mid Ohio Area Labor Council.
“I know firsthand the adverse effects of technology in the workplace. Although there are benefits, there is also a human downside. The Workers Right to Training legislation is a must have tool in addressing these transitions when they occur,” said Ed Good, Upper Ohio Valley Central Labor Council AFL-CIO.
“Everyone benefits from the Right to Training Act, even the employer. Who better to consult with than the experts who performed the job for years,” said local Toledo auto worker Mike Sawaya.
MORE ON BROWN’S WORKER RIGHT TO TRAINING ACT:
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.
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.