Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI), and called for legislation to invest in workforce training and technical education in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Central Industries, the employment and manufacturing division of CABVI, employs 110 workers and trains blind and visually impaired employees to produce medical products and provide services needed by federal and state governments. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the facility has experienced increased demand for medical supplies, especially gloves. Senator Gillibrand was joined by CABVI President and CEO Ed Welsh and Utica Mayor Rob Palmieri.
As organizations and manufacturers adjust to the demands of the coronavirus crisis, Gillibrand is calling for $15 billion in funding for workforce training infrastructure — including training, career navigation, and other services — to help workers quickly gain and refine essential skills to re-enter the workforce. The Relaunching America’s Workforce Act would ensure direct support for critical workforce development and career and technical education as the economy responds. In addition, Senator Gillibrand is calling on Congress to include the End Outsourcing Act in the next coronavirus relief package to support economic recovery. The legislation would create a new tax benefit to help companies bring jobs back to America, and would require companies that have outsourced jobs within a five year period to pay back federal tax incentives and grants from facilities closed due to outsourcing.
“During these challenging times the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired has stepped up and drawn on their expertise to join New York’s battle against the coronavirus outbreak. Their adaptability, commitment to innovation, and dedication to the community showcase what New Yorkers do best,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Now, Congress must help train our workforce to respond to this crisis and put millions of Americans back to work. For our country to recover, it’s critical that we invest in training workers with in-demand skills and build the strong, skilled, and diverse American workforce needed to meet innovation in this unprecedented time. We must address the growing demand for education, training, and employment services in order to help people gain skills, find jobs, strengthen families and aid our economic recovery.”
“On behalf of the people we serve, our boards of directors and employees, I’d like to thank Sen. Gillibrand for recognizing CABVI’s role in the fight to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Nearly half of our 280 employees is legally blind or visually impaired, a historically underserved segment of workers. Our All-American labor force takes seriously its duties to manufacture and package the highest quality personal protective equipment. We’re proud of our efforts to protect the health of front-line workers and citizens, while ensuring we can retain and produce jobs in the communities we serve,” said CABVI President and CEO Ed Welsh.
More than 30 million Americans filed for unemployment in the last month, and millions more are likely to be laid off through July. In response to this economic crisis, the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act would directly invest in workers, employers, and the economy. The legislation would increase support for layoff aversion strategies that allow employers to receive partial funding while keeping workers on the payroll and helping employees improve their job skills through training. The Relaunching America’s Workforce Act would also fund a grant program to support partnerships between community colleges and industry that would provide workers skills for in-demand jobs. The legislation was introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), and Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor.
Additionally, Senator Gillibrand is urging Congress to include the End Outsourcing Act in the next coronavirus response legislation. Many businesses in the United States have sent domestic manufacturing jobs overseas to low-cost, low-wage countries as companies aim to cut costs and increase profit. Meanwhile, families and communities in states across the country are feeling the loss. The End Outsourcing Act will prohibit companies who outsource from using federal tax incentives like tax breaks and federal contracts. In addition, the bill will offer a 20 percent tax credit for companies to bring jobs back to the United States; the tax credit will help pay for permits fees, leases, and general moving costs of relocating a new facility or new jobs into the country. Finally, federal agencies will require companies to make mandatory disclosures — on applications for grants, loans, or loan guarantees — if they have outsourced jobs within the last three years.
Full text of the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act can be found here.