Letters to the Editor

Workers get important help

The economic downturn in the state of Washington has resulted in the loss of jobs to tens of thousands of people, many of whom need education and training in order to learn the skills needed for a new job. Unfortunately, assistance to support dislocated and laid-off workers does not meet the demand.

This is why I welcome federal as well as state-level action which will increase job training and retraining assistance. The recent Trade Protection Authority Bill does just that. It doubles funding for job training and extends eligibility for both healthcare and job training to Ž“downstreamŽ” workers (i.e., the suppliers to a closed-down factory) and workers who were employed at a factory that has moved overseas.

These provisions are significant and expand aid to dislocated workers, and I applaud our national leaders for doing what is right for our state workers.

This compromise bill both protects our workers in the current economic downturn ŽÑ with healthcare and job retraining during tough times ŽÑ and expands training and job opportunities for our state. Those, like U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, who worked hard to reach this compromise did so because they realized that while one in every three Washington jobs are dependent on trade, we also must have worker retraining funds to address the rapidly growing skills gap in the state.

I know how much we need to help laid-off workers who are trying to transition back into the workforce. Our citizens need real choices for education and training. Right now, most of our workers do not have the skills they need to secure the jobs available. They lack training and education options that will provide them with those skills. We need to do a better job of providing healthcare and childcare support for all workers to make retraining a real option, leading to permanent family-wage jobs.

The agreement reached in Washington, D.C. goes a long way to helping workers here in Washington state.

Priscilla J. Bell

President

Highline Community College

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