WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) reintroduced the Emergency Economic and Workforce System Resiliency Act, which will provide new funding to state and local workforce agencies to prevent layoffs, support displaced workers, and collaborate with employers on innovative strategies for preserving the existing workforce and creating new jobs. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) will be introducing the bill in the Senate.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted our workforce and left many workers experiencing joblessness or employment instability. These disruptions have underscored the need for an updated workforce training system that better prepares our workers for changing job markets and supports them in times of disruption. Current economic development programs, workforce training programs, and unemployment benefits programs are often siloed and focus on workers already out of work,” said Congressman Smith. “The Emergency Economic and Workforce System Resiliency Act will provide critical funding to state and local workforce agencies to prevent layoffs and support workers and firms as jobs and industries encounter transitions. Through increased resources for training, upskilling, and piloting innovative incumbent worker training models, this bill will help workers develop and stay current on the skills and credentials necessary to maintain high-quality jobs with good wages and benefits.”

“This legislation will provide resources to states and localities to help prevent layoffs, retrain employees, and protect against market disruptions,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar. “By meeting the needs of our workforce, we are investing in our economy and future generations.”

The current workforce system focuses heavily on helping workers already out of work but provides much less support for incumbent workers. The Emergency Economic and Workforce System Resiliency Act puts forward a new model of investing in workers and firms prior to layoffs and sector-wide changes in workforce needs. The bill creates a five-year funding stream to state and local workforce boards to invest in new programs to prevent layoffs, assist displaced workers, assist firms in transitioning to employee ownership or worker cooperative models, and support employers in preserving existing jobs and creating new ones.

This funding will help states meet the exacerbated needs of the workforce system during the recovery from the pandemic and economic downturn, and serve as a model for future workforce disruptions from economic downturns or increased automation. The bill encourages states to collaborate across state agencies and with other non-profit and for-profit entities. States are encouraged to prioritize partnerships with firms and industries that offer high-quality, in-demand jobs with competitive wages and benefits.

The Emergency Economic and Workforce System Resiliency Act also funds five-year pilot programs for states to implement innovative workforce system-wide layoff aversion models. These grants will promote state-wide innovation to effectively support workers throughout their careers and bolster firm resiliency in the wake of economic disruption.

For more information, here is a fact sheet, section-by-section, and text of the bill

Endorsing Organizations: Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, Center for Law and Social Policy, National Cooperative Business Association, Impact Washington, National League of Cities, National Skills Coalition, Democracy At Work Institute, CooperationWorks!, ICA Group, Project Equity, Northwest Cooperative Development Center, Local Enterprise Assistance Fund, National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International, Cooperative Fund of New England, US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, SEIU-UHW West, Cooperative Development Institute, Sustainable Economies Law Center, Employee Ownership Expansion Network, National Association of Workforce Boards

Statements of Support:

Eleni Papadakis, Executive Director, Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board

“I am struck by the potential long-range impact inherent in this bill. It is rare to see federal legislation that addresses the issues of the here and now, while also supporting transformative investments for future impact. While this bill would provide significant new resources to help displaced workers prepare for high-demand, high-wage employment, it will also enable states to learn from the pandemic and re-engineer public systems for the future—to better support businesses, workers, and communities for economic resilience. I so appreciate the bill’s aim towards shared prosperity and equitable and inclusive economic recovery. The bill also shows a solid understanding of how globalization, technology, environmental, and security issues are inducing tremendous changes to work and workplaces—and supports states to face these critical challenges to our economic vitality.”

Olivia Golden, Executive Director, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

“The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) is pleased to endorse the Emergency Economic Adjustment Assistance and Workforce System Resiliency Act which offers critical supports for navigating the recession and includes actionable workforce interventions for states and localities. CLASP applauds this bill’s prioritization of populations that have been disproportionately harmed by the pandemic, including people of color, justice impacted youth and adults, immigrants, displaced workers and others facing systemic barriers to employment.”

Deloit R. Wolfe, Jr., President and Center Director, Impact Washington

"The need for a skilled workforce remains a top priority for manufacturers nationally, and we appreciate the leadership of Congressman Smith in this legislation to address it.," said Deloit R. Wolfe, Jr., President and Center Director of Impact Washington. "As an agency that works closely with the manufacturing sector, the funding streams provided will foster continued collaboration to ensure we're working together as agencies to plan and implement workforce development programs with regional economic development strategies to meet employers' local and regional needs."

Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and Executive Director, National League of Cities

“As cities, towns and villages work to rebuild and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must get our residents back to work and meet the changing demands of business. The pandemic has had an inequitable impact on our nation’s workforce, and this legislation provides important dollars to invest in the training and pathways to employment to help workers secure jobs. As Congress looks to the next economic recovery package, investments in workforce and skills development must be a critical component.”

National Skills Coalition

“Workforce and skills training is one essential part of ensuring an inclusive economic recovery. We’re glad to see the Emergency Economic and Workforce System Resiliency Act prioritizes skills training, support services, and connections to in-demand jobs that workers need today and that meet industry demand.”

Melissa Hoover, Executive Director, Democracy at Work Institute

“The Emergency Economic and Workforce Resiliency Act can play a critical part in reducing unemployment and creating a stronger and more equitable foundation for the American worker by making the tool of worker ownership a more widely used strategy for job quality and retention.”

Steve Storkan, Executive Director, Employee Ownership Expansion Network

“On behalf of the EOX network of State Centers (State Centers), we applaud your efforts for drafting and introducing the Emergency Economic and Workforce System Resiliency Act (EEWSRA) and we offer our full support. We are grateful that in Section 103 of EEWSRA, among the eleven uses for state grants, you recognize the need for federal and state financial support for education and technical assistance on all forms of employee ownership through State Centers and the establishment of loan funds through Community Development Financial Institutions and other State or non-profit organizations to fund the purchases of businesses by the employees.”

Doug O’Brien, President & CEO, National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA

“The National Cooperative Business Association is proud to endorse the Emergency Economic and Workforce Resiliency Act and appreciates the leadership from Congressman Smith and Senator Klobuchar. Cooperatives are an important tool toward sustainable and stable workforce development and economic growth, and we commend Rep. Smith for recognizing the value for workers, businesses and communities. By increasing financing and technical assistance resources for cooperatives through WIOA, this legislation will not only help reduce or avert layoffs, but also give more people the opportunity to own and control the businesses where they work and use, and we look forward to working with Sen. Klobuchar and Rep. Smith to advance this legislation.”