"laid off from work"
About This Checklist This checklist is one of a series created by the Working for America Institute to help labor leaders respond to the jobs crisis and appears in the second issue of Connections in April 2002. An earlier checklist, What to Do When the Layoff Notice Arrives, was featured in the first issue of Connections in December 2001. . Helping Government Help Laid-Off Workers A Checklist for Union Leaders To Improve Publicly Funded Dislocated Worker Programs Unions have worked across the country with employers and public agencies to build Best Jobs Available worker-centered programs that help laid-off Unions want to make sure that all workers: displaced worker programs – and especially those funded by public dollars – Assess their interests and skills provide workers with training and a Set new goals pipeline to the best jobs the local economy Retrain for new careers can provide. If jobs exist in the regional Find good jobs and labor market that will pay workers the same wage that they received before the Retain good jobs layoffs (wage-replacement jobs), unions push for programs that will prepare their This checklist—the second in a series—offers members for those jobs. If wage- a list of key questions for union leaders to ask replacement jobs do not exist, then unions in evaluating publicly funded job-placement work to assure that workers can access programs. the best jobs the local labor market can offer. Nine times out of ten, within In addition, the checklist provides an array of particular sectors in a region, those jobs activities and tools for unions to use to ensure that the public system properly assists are unionized. workers in preparing for and finding good jobs. Are adequate resources available for a comprehensive displaced-worker program that will lead workers to family-supporting reemployment? Make sure officials have identified all public funding available to service workers: Workforce Investment Act funds, National Emergency Grant funds, Trade Act programs, veterans programs, adult basic education funds, Pell Grants and scholarships, state workforce and economic development funds, union- negotiated resources (i.e., training funds, extended COBRA), other mutually agreed upon funds or benefits (i.e., work-release time, resource centers). Consider seeking private funding, including local and national foundation support, for certain aspects of the program. Note that some workers may be entitled to training, support and reemployment services through vocational rehabilitation and/or workers’ compensation systems. Work with state and/or local workforce officials to get an overview of the local employment and training system and to make the available programs and resources relevant to unions and workers. Contact the labor representatives on your state and local Workforce Investment Board. AFL-CIO state federations and central labor councils (CLCs) can help direct you to them. Has the union that represents the workers been fully involved in the design, delivery and evaluation of the program and services? Many state federations and CLCs provide dislocated worker services. Contact them for help. Use the worker adjustment committee, which should have been established as part of Rapid Response to help with program design and to oversee and evaluate the program and services. Recommend the use of peer advisers to learn what works and what does not. Use that information to improve the program. Insist that the program is tailored to provide workers with portable skills and other resources they need to make a successful transition to a new job. Insist that program design and delivery are based upon informed worker choice. Workers should get to choose the training and reemployment options that are best for them based on complete information and counseling provided by the program. Are workers informed of the program and services and are program-sponsored activities accessible to workers? Unemployment insurance and severance pay can support families while workers are in training. Start the training early to help workers maximize these benefits. Work with the employment and training system and program operators to develop a plan to reach out to workers and encourage their response. Help develop easy-to-understand fliers and brochures to inform workers about the program and services. Help plan informational sessions to inform workers about services. Identify worker leaders to become peer advisers who can reach out to other laid- off workers. Peer advisers act as the eyes, ears and voice of workers in the program. Make sure the program is conveniently and strategically located, i.e., at a union hall or company site, that public transportation and adequate parking are available. Ensure the outreach information is available to a diverse population, including people with disabilities and non-English speakers. Insist on strict confidentiality to build worker trust in the program. Does the program provide the support services to help workers succeed? Provide financial counseling services, i.e., help in dealing with debt, housing, utilities, etc. Offer stress-management services. Identify and address the needs of workers with disabilities, including workers with learning disabilities, occupational injuries and illnesses. Insist that the program provide follow-up services to help track progress, and assist workers to access needed support services. How does the program work with local employers and unions to find or create good jobs for workers participating in the program? Does the employer doing layoffs have jobs for which successful training would qualify the laid-off worker? Work through the union to start or integrate that training with training offered to still working members. Work with the Central Labor Council and its member unions in the region to identify other unionized employers. Ask unions who represent those employers for their help in getting their employers to hire program participants. Work with those unions and their employers within the region to obtain ―first source hire agreements‖ for current and future job openings. Develop training standards for demand occupations with unions and union employers. Does the program work with workers to help them find good jobs? Help program staff get the information they need to match participants to jobs. Make sure they know the participants’ skills and the skills employers need. Help workers identify transferable skills that employers need. Provide accurate and timely labor market information about jobs across a spectrum of skill levels and work experience. Provide workers with job-search training and support, such as how to find out about vacancies, understanding the hidden job market, resume writing, interviewing skills, and interview follow-up protocols. Work with local employers to set up job fairs and other recruitment activities. Work with unions and union employers to create reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities. Does the program provide training to workers who do not have the skills they need for a new job on an appropriate career track? Help the participants develop individualized training plans. Make sure they know the skills they have and the skills they need. Make sure assessments are used to get workers the training they need. Be careful that assessments are not used to screen workers out of training. Provide workers’ rights training to all participants including rights, responsibilities and remedies regarding discriminatory hiring and employment practices, minimum wage and overtime protections, union membership, Family and Medical Leave Act protections, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance coverage, etc. Provide job readiness or skills training that corresponds to real job prospects. Integrate basic skills training with occupational training. Provide upgrade and retraining in high-wage, high-demand skills and occupations. Seek general education credit (both high school and/or higher education credits) for training offered through the program. If you need help, contact the George Meany Center/National Labor College. Ensure that eligible workers in training are provided with support services, i.e. transportation, childcare, income support, job search support groups, and relocation assistance (allowances, information, referrals). Make sure that training programs are accessible to workers with disabilities. Remember, the law requires programs to make reasonable accommodations at no cost to the participant. How does the program follow up with workers to ensure that they succeed in their new jobs? At unionized worksites, work with the unions to get employers who have hired program participants to identify, and perhaps reward, experienced workers who are willing to be peer advisers. Peer advisers can advise the new employee and help him/her succeed in the new job. Try to create similar programs in non-union workplaces. In unionized workplaces, encourage employers to create and/or supplement on- the-job training programs to help participants strengthen skills while providing training opportunities for incumbent union members as well. Try to create similar programs in non-union workplaces. Ensure program follow-up with participants and with employers at regular intervals after placement to help trouble-shoot problems. Identify any additional training or assistance new employees need to succeed in their jobs. Identify any employer-based barriers to success and offer support to employers to remove those barriers (i.e., help in developing training for supervisors in non- discrimination, etc.) How has the program done? Request evidence of the program’s compliance with all the above. Request regular reports on the status of laid-off members’ job searches and wage-replacement levels. The AFL-CIO Working for American Institute is available to help local union leaders get the help they need to work with the public workforce development system in building an effective program for their laid-off members. Contact us at 1-800-842-4734 or 202 974- 8100, or by e-mail at email@example.com