Tartaglione Lauds Progress on Train to Work, Urges Oversight
HARRISBURG, February 9, 2011 – Nearly a year after she introduced the idea in the Senate, state Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione today praised the Corbett administration for embracing her job training plan, but cautioned state labor officials to include provisions from her bill that will prevent violations of federal labor law.
In a letter to state Labor Secretary Julia K. Hearthway, Tartaglione urged the administration to adopt protections contained in Senate Bill 678 that provide for oversight of the “Train to Work PA” program by an advisory panel of business and labor experts.
“Experience in other states has produced a mixed record of success as well as a troubling definition of ‘training’ applied by some participating employers,” Tartaglione wrote. “The oversight of an advisory committee would not only protect workers from possible exploitation, but it would also ensure compliance with federal labor law.”
Senate Bill 678 was introduced in March 2011, as part of Senate Democrats’ “PA Works Now” initiative. The bill was modeled after similar programs in other states where experience has shown that strict oversight is necessary to ensure that workers are being trained and not simply used as free labor.
“Train to Work PA” would allow unemployment beneficiaries to continue receiving benefits while undergoing on-the-job training for a limited period of time, and would use federal dislocated worker funds to reimburse employers for training other unemployed workers.
The state Department of Labor yesterday broadly outlined an initiative called “Keystone Works,” containing the core of Tartaglione’s legislation.
Train-to-work programs have drawn scrutiny from workers’ rights groups and prompted the issuance of guidelines by the U.S. Department of Labor after accusations that some employers were providing little or no actual training.
Tartaglione’s bill sets standards for oversight, prohibits replacement of current staff by trainees and requires a plan for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Properly supervised and legally implemented, my Train to Work PA program will partner good-faith employers and unemployed workers in adapting to the rapidly changing technology of the workplace,” Tartaglione said. “A program undertaken without such guidance could lead to the exploitation of workers, the marginalization of the disabled and regrettable waste of taxpayer dollars.”