The governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon recently issued an executive order that bans employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. The order applies to state agencies and public schools but does not apply to private employers.
The same executive order also bans discrimination based on veteran status.
There is no federal law that bans discrimination against gay or lesbian workers in private industry. Several states have laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in all employment, including New York, California, New Jersey and Illinois. However, Missouri does not have any state law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Apparently the Governor felt that he needed to take the matter into his own hands, at least regarding discrimination against homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals by state agencies.
In the executive order, the governor alluded to the Declaration of Independence’s assertion that “all men are created equal” and strongly suggested that any law, regulation or judicial decision that permitted discrimination (more…)
A $1.7 million employment grant was awarded to the state of Missouri to provide training assistance for workers who lost their jobs as a result of several recent mass layoffs. The mass layoffs included:
- Chrysler LLC in Fenton, Missouri
- Integram St. Louis Seating in Pacific, Missouri
- Yushin USA Ltd. in Kirksville, Missouri
“This $1.7 million grant will provide these Missourians with employment services to help in starting a new career in a growing industry,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao.
All workers impacted by these layoffs have been certified for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). TAA is a federal program that can provide additional benefits, beyond the normal unemployment insurance payments, to workers affected by mass layoffs or plant closures. Under TAA, workers can receive unemployment benefits for a year or more. In addition, TAA offers workers training in new skills to help them secure jobs in a different market sector, including tuition and benefits. In some cases, laid-off workers who earn less at their new job qualify for partial payments through TAA for up to 18 additional months, even while they are working.
The Missouri training grant is awarded to the Missouri Division of Workforce Development and will provide workers with services not covered under the TAA program. The grant will be used to provide a menu of services to workers, including assessment, career counseling and case management. Services and benefits already available to these workers under TAA may include training, job search allowances, relocation allowances and a health coverage tax credit, among others.
This grant benefits an area that has been hard-hit in recent months by various layoffs and plant closures. On Nov. 2, 2007, Chrysler LLC announced that it would be eliminating the second shift at its Fenton, Mo., plant, affecting approximately 1,078 workers.
This change triggered a domino-effect as Chrysler’s suppliers responded to changing market conditions.
On the heels of that announcement, Chrysler suppliers Integram St. Louis Seating announced that they would lay off 326 workers. Then Yushin USA Ltd. announced that they would be laying off about 100 workers.
Of the total announced, $958,608 will be released initially. Additional funding up to $1.7 million will be made available as the state demonstrates a continued need to serve workers affected by these layoffs.
On the same day, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a $250,000 Regional Innovation Grant to assist the state of Connecticut in developing regional talent development strategies. These plans will specifically focus on increasing the technical and engineering skills of Connecticut workers. The project covers the eastern Connecticut region, as well as Worcester County in Massachusetts and Washington County in Rhode Island.
“Eastern Connecticut is working across state boundaries to ensure area workers have opportunities to build the kinds of technical skills that are in demand,” said acting Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Brent R. Orrell. “The $250,000 this grant provides will help bring together business and education leaders to address skills shortages and establish plans for long-term talent development.”
The grant goes to the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board. It will be implemented by the newly formed Engineering and Technical Skills Task Force.
Members of the Skills Task Force will collaborate with area educational partners to analyze the region’s capacity to offer engineering and technical skills training programs and issue recommendations to address existing and emerging skills gaps.
Normally, when a grant such as this identifies employer needs and a plan to train workers, it is followed by a larger training grant, such as the one in Missouri.
The project also will support plans to increase the number of engineering degree programs, and strengthen connections between employers and potential workers through internship and apprenticeship programs.
A $250,000 Regional Innovation Grant to Missouri will aid displaced workers in Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, as well.
The Missouri grant from the U.S. Department of Labor will help establish talent development strategies in the Quad states region, including southwest Missouri, northwest Arkansas, southeast Kansas and northeast Oklahoma.
“The project this $250,000 grant supports will help the Quad States region create talent development strategies that incorporate the assets of these states and address the needs of emerging industries,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Douglas F. Small.
The area has been lagging in jobs and economic development for some time.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the grant, awarded to the Workforce Investment Board of the Southwest Region Inc., will enable the region to map its assets and conduct a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis. Using the SWOT analysis and other studies, the region will link local governments, educators, business associations and economic development agencies to develop synchronized talent development strategies.
The project will begin with the establishment of the Quad States Regional Transformation leadership group, which will jointly develop strategies that position the area as a regional transportation and logistics hub. The project will encompass approximately 40 counties in the four-state region.
Other grants recently announced by the U.S. Department of Labor include a $5.5 million grant to aid laid-off workers in the mortgage industry in California, and a grant for economic development in the Cedar Valley region of Iowa.
Regional Innovation Grants are drawn from National Emergency Grant funds to assist state workforce agencies and local workforce investment boards, as well as their key partners, in the design and development of comprehensive and strategic regional plans focused on talent development that is aligned with the demands of the 21st century economy.
Missouri Emergency Grants
National Emergency Grants (NEG) are awarded when a plant closes or lays off many workers which creates a need that the state can not handle. For example, in 2007, an Emergency Grant of $250,000 was given to SI WORKS, a new program for twenty southern Illinois counties to aid economic development and to improve job opportunities.
These grants are awarded by the U. S. Department of Labor at the discretion of the Labor Secretary. Current Labor Secretary, Elaine L. Chao has awarded several grants in the past couple of years. In addition to the SI WORKS grant, Ms. Chao awarded over one million dollars to Missouri employees who were displaced when the O’Sullivan Industries Plant in Lamar, Missouri closed its doors.
The NEGs are awarded on a time-limited basis, offering financial assistance for “significant dislocation events”. This money serves to temporarily increase state and local service levels to handle the event.
When one of these events occurs, a state should initiate the grant process immediately, to ensure the funds will be available. Any discretionary funds held by the state should be included in its resources. Most state and local employment agencies can provide information on grant application policies.
Several types of NEGs exist, and are each awarded for a specific situation.
When a company lays off 50 or more workers, or when layoffs are industry-wide within a region, or when the layoffs total fewer than 50 but severely affect a rural community or small town, a Regular NEG could be awarded.
Employees eligible for Trade Realignment Assistance (TRA) or for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) who are in danger of losing their healthcare insurance may be awarded a Trade-Health Coverage Infrastructure grant.
Trade-WIA Dual Enrollment grants are awarded when 50 or more workers in areas affected by federal trade policies are laid off.
Regional Innovation grants pertain to partnerships between business and government and non-profit agencies. These grants are often used to train laid-off workers for new jobs and boost the local economy.
Disaster grants are awarded to communities struck by hurricanes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, blizzards or other natural disasters.
Workers in Missouri will get a much-need lift from the U.S. Department of Labor with a $1 million National Emergency Grant. The grant of up to $1,098,450 will assist 310 workers displaced as a result of the closure of the O’Sullivan Industries plant in Lamar, Missouri.
“This nearly $1.1 million grant will help Missouri workers access employment services to help them find new hobs in high growth industries, “said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao.
O’Sullivan Industries issued a federal WARN notice on April 16, 2007, announcing that it would begin layoffs on July 20, 2007. Workers are also eligible to receive assistance under the Trade Adjustment Assistance or TAA program, a national program for workers displaced by foreign factories.
O’Sullivan Industries was a leading producer of inexpensive furniture products for home and office use, including desks, shelves and similar products. Items, usually requiring assembly, were sold nationwide in Kmart and other stores. O’Sullivan has ceased production and is no longer in business, although some of its product lines have been acquired by other companies.
Lamar, Missouri in Barton County, is best known as the small-town birthplace of U.S. President Harry S. Truman.
Some of the benefits offered under this grant may include preparing resumes, career counseling skills assessment and job placement assistance. The initial release of $499,304 goes directly to the Missouri Department of Labor. None of the funds are paid directly to the displaced workers.
This was just the most recent of a series of National Emergency Grants awarded by Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao. In September, a $250,000 grant was awarded to a new program, SI WORKS, designed to improve worker opportunities and economic development in 20 southern Illinois counties.
Also in September, a $3 million grant went to provide temporary jobs and benefits to workers in parts of Minnesota ravaged by flash floods.
More than 400 workers laid off by Micron Technology, Inc. in Boise, Idaho received assistance through a grant of more than $2 million. The U.S. Department of Labor immediately released $847,538 of the grant to assist workers dislocated by the layoffs. The total grant is for $2,010,277.
“This $2 million grant will provide these Idaho workers with skills training, career counseling and other employment services to help them find and succeed in new jobs,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor recently announced a grant of more than $1.2 million to assist some 246 Rhode Island workers who were displaced by layoffs at the Brooks Eckerd corporate offices in Warwick. The layoffs are due to acquisition of Brooks Eckerd by Rite Aid.
Two grants totaling more than $1.94 million went to benefit workers in Massachusetts and Missouri. The emergency grants helped provide a number of job resources to workers who are unemployed due to plant closings. In addition, the DOL has ruled that these workers are eligible for additional assistance under TAA, the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, National Emergency Grants (NEG) are discretionary awards by the Secretary of Labor. The grants temporarily expand service capacity at the state and local levels through time-limited funding assistance in response to “significant dislocation events.” When a layoff, plant closing or other event creates a need beyond what the state can reasonably be expected to meet, the state may apply for an Emergency Grant. In order for a state to qualify, any discretionary funds available at the state level must be included in the state’s resources.
Grants are given for different purposes. Disaster grants benefit areas afflicted by floods, wildfires, blizzards, hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters. Other grants include Trade-WIA Dual Enrollment grants and Trade-Health Coverage Infrastructure grants.
The U.S. Department of Labor recently presented awards to outstanding worker training programs throughout the country in five key areas. These categories include:
Helping young people who are out of school
Collaborating with industry to create a workforce investment program
Leveraging partnerships between employers, educators and economic development agencies
Creating a highly-trained 21st century workforce
Training workers with special needs
This year’s big winners include groups from Connecticut, Kentucky, Michigan, Virginia and Wisconsin. Runners-up for the awards include agencies and companies from Michigan, Texas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oregon, Washington, New York, Louisiana and Minnesota.
The Recognition of Excellence awards go to the top talent development programs nationwide. This week, Assistant Secretary of Labor Emily Stover DeRocco presented the awards during the Workforce Innovations Conference. Stover DeRocco heads the department’s division of Employment and Training. This is the fourth consecutive year the awards have been used to recognize outstanding training programs in state and local government, private business, education and economic development programs. Each award represents a collaboration between two or more of those key players.
“Our honorees have shown that they are innovative leaders in providing workers with the opportunities and tools to help them compete in today’s global economy,” said DeRocco. “Their outstanding work serves as a model for others to learn from and apply to their own regional economic and talent development strategies.”
The first category is “Educating America’s 21st Century Workforce”, recognizing the top program for providing innovative and effective strategies to prepare workers for jobs requiring better skills. The winner is the Alpena Community College of Alpena, Michigan. Honorable Mentions in this category include the Junior College District of Kansas City, Missouri and the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership of Beaverton, Oregon.
The award for “Building an Industry/Business-Driven Workforce Investment System” goes to the program that best responds to an industry need while preparing workers for continued job growth. This award goes to Capital Workforce Partners, of Hartford Connecticut. Honorable mentions in this category include the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth’s Bureau of Workforce Programs statewide. An Honorable Mention also went to the Gulf Coast Workforce Board: the WorkSource in the Gulf Coast Region of Texas.
The third category recognizes the value of collaborations between employers, educators and economic development leaders. The e3 Partnership award goes to Eastern Kentucky C.E. P. Inc. of Hazard, Kentucky. The runner up in this category is the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Gulfport, Mississippi.
The fourth category is “Recognizing the Demographics of the Workforce”. This award highlights agencies or organizations that target workers with special needs. Winners in this category provide services to workers with limited English skills, to migrant farm workers, and those who are homeless as well as others. The top award in this category goes to Experience Works, Inc. of Arlington Virginia. Honorable mentions go to the Shoreline Community College in Shoreline Washington and the Center for Employment Opportunities in New York, N.Y.
The final category is “Serving Out-of-School Youth”. Winners in this category demonstrate innovative techniques in collaborating with educators, businesses, industry and other essential partners to train, educate and hire young people who are out of school. The award goes to Workforce Connections, Inc. of La Crosse, Wisconsin. Other notable programs in this category include the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the River Paris WIA Program in Convent, Louisiana.
All of the awards were presented at a gala ceremony during the Workforce Innovations Conference, an annual event that provides an opportunity for networking on workforce issues between stakeholders in the public and private sectors.