Empowering workers in age of automation


Sherrod Brown - US Senator



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Brown-062609-18446- 0008


As technology evolves, we need to make sure our workers are growing with it.

Over the past month, I have traveled around Ohio meeting with workers, and talking to them about how we can empower workers and make sure they have a seat at the table, as technology changes the way many companies do business.

No matter how technology changes, companies will still need human beings to oversee that technology – Ohio workers will always be our greatest resource.

But right now, too many workers get left behind when companies adopt new technology – that’s why last week I introduced the Workers’ Right to Training Act, to help fix that.

The plan has three simple parts:

It would require employers to pay for and provide on-the-job training to any employees affected by the introduction of new technology.

I talked to one worker with CWA in Akron who told me, “If companies give us the opportunity to train, we’ll do the work and we’ll do it well.” But too many Ohio workers don’t get that opportunity. And when jobs are eliminated altogether, employers still need to train workers to help them get a similar job at another company.

Companies would also be required to provide 180 days advanced notice to workers when new technology will change their jobs, and 270 days advanced notice if the company is eliminating their jobs. And companies would have to pay those workers six months’ severance pay.

The bill would also require companies to bargain directly with workers when they implement any of these changes – workers have a stake in a company too, and they deserve a seat at the table.

Of course technology is always evolving – the Mayor of Lima told me this legislation “anticipates a tidal wave that’s coming at us.”

But as that happens, workers can’t just be a cost to be minimized. All work has dignity, and when technology changes the way we work, we have a responsibility to ensure workers aren’t left behind. We cannot accept that the future of work means lower pay, less job security, and fewer workplace protections.

Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) represents the state in the U.S. Senate.

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Sherrod Brown

US Senator