Senator Sherrod Brown pushes automation legislation

(Washington, D.C.) - Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced legislation he believes would provide critical resources to workers, when companies decide to adopt new technology that will affect their jobs.

Last week, Brown wrapped up a statewide tour with stops in Akron, Lima, Mansfield, St. Clairsville, Youngstown and Toledo to talk to Ohioans across the state about his bill and ways to support workers in the face of increased automation.

“No matter how technology changes, Ohio workers will always be our greatest resource,” said Brown. “But right now, too many workers are left behind when companies decide to adopt new technology. We must work to ensure that workers aren’t treated as a cost to be minimized but rather treated with the dignity they’ve earned to have an equal say in how best to implement new technology in the workplace.”

Brown was joined on a conference call today by Tim Burga, President of the Ohio AFL-CIO, to discuss Brown’s bill.

“Ohio workers are the best in the world at what they do. Senator Brown recognizes the ability of Ohio’s workforce to meet any challenge and his bill requires companies to do the same. Workers drive the success of our economy, and with a seat at the table, they will look out for the interests of working families rather than the interests of Wall Street that continue to leave workers and families behind,” said Burga.

Brown’s Workers’ Right to Training Act aims to benefit workers by requiring companies to provide advance notice of any technology changes that may affect workers’ jobs and provide training to these workers in advance of adopting the new technology.

Specifically, Brown’s bill would:

Require companies to provide 180 days advanced notice to workers when new technology will change employment positions and provide 270 days advanced notice if jobs will be eliminated. Employers must bargain directly with employees on how best to implement new technology.

Require employers to pay for and provide on-the-job training to any employees who will be affected by the introduction of new technology. Companies must either provide training to employees whose jobs will change as a result of new technology or to employees who will lose their job to help these workers obtain a different position at a similar company. 

Require employers to provide six-month severance to all workers who lose their jobs as a result of new technology.

Brown claims by mandating employers consult and compensate employees whose jobs are changed or lost due to technology, the Workers’ Right to Training Act will ensure the adoption of technology in the workplace will be done in a just way for workers. 

He contends, by helping workers affected by technology to receive the training they need, the bill will also help to ensure the U.S. workforce remains high-skilled and capable of competing in a global economy. 

(Photos by Ken Robinson/WTAM)

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