WHEREAS, the balance of authority for workforce investment programs, between federal, state and local governments and the private sector, was very carefully negotiated and agreed upon during the initial development of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 and achieved a productive balance between these system stakeholders, based upon the roles that each play in their local economies and subsequently, in the workforce system; and

WHEREAS, Congress created a national network of locally driven, private sector- led workforce investment systems, overseen by local Workforce Investment Boards through WIA and this state-local-private sector balance of authority for the design, implementation and oversight of WIA, which forms the backbone of the national workforce investment system; and

WHEREAS, WIA firmly provides for local governance structures and authority that enable workforce development efforts to target the needs of business, industry, workers and job seekers in local and regional labor markets; and

WHEREAS, WIA impacts the bottom lines of the nation’s private sector businesses, and in a February 2005 report, The General Accountability Office (GAO) found that business is overwhelmingly accessing WIA programs, 71 percent of large companies use One-Stops and over half of medium size businesses. And though medium and large business establishments employ a majority of the workforce, about half of small business are also aware of their local onestops and increasingly using their services. The private sector is overwhelming satisfied with the WIA One-Stop services they receive, with about a 77 percent satisfaction rate; and

WHEREAS, the investment Congress made in WIA is showing significant returns. The most recent Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration Workforce System Results report shows that despite a challenging economy, WIA programs are exceeding their goals of getting people jobs, retaining those jobs and increasing their earnings. Nationwide 89 percent of dislocated workers served by WIA retained their jobs and 84 percent of adult workers retained their jobs. Despite huge numbers of youth in the country either out of school or work (almost 5.7 million), 61 percent of youth served by WIA entered postsecondary education, advanced training, employment, military service or apprenticeships; and

WHEREAS, the Administration has reopened this previously successfully agreed upon and effective “governance” structure by proposing major shifts in authority for WIA from local Workforce Investment Boards and Locally-Elected Officials -- to Governors and State Workforce Agencies, through a variety of proposals including: WIA Plus, consolidation of adult, dislocated worker, employment services and youth, and current practices outside of WIA reauthorization including state plan approval. Some of the changes proposed by the Administration that would undermine local workforce systems include:

  • Expanded State waiver authority, beyond the expansive waiver authority already provided to Governors under current law (WIA), including the ability to waive allocation of local funding, designation of local areas, and the existence and authority of local Workforce Investment Boards;
  • The reduction and potential elimination of critical services to youth, disadvantaged adults and dislocated workers through expanded state waiver authority; and
  • A reduction in funding for local Adult, Dislocated Worker and Youth programs, as a result of the consolidated Adult and Youth state block grant; and
  • A shift from local boards to Governors in determining who receives intensive and training services through the onestops, particularly training leading to self-sufficiency for low-wage workers;
  • Expanded powers for States in the certification of local one-stops and local Workforce Investment Boards;
  • Expanded authority for Governors to eliminate/redesignate local workforce areas already established under WIA, without just cause (i.e., poor performance or problems in fiscal integrity);
  • Elimination of the right to appeal such designation or re-designation;

    WHEREAS, the above-listed changes to the WIA system would be devastating to the local workforce investment system that includes critically needed services in urban and city areas to businesses, workers and job seekers; and

    WHEREAS, there is much evidence that when local programs are consolidated into state block grants, the end result is cuts in funding and a loss of local authority. For example, right now mayors are fighting the proposed elimination of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, its merger at the state level with 17 other programs and an overall reduction in funding of the combined programs; and

    WHEREAS, the above-listed changes would be extremely disruptive and create instability in a very promising system, just at a time when business leaders are becoming increasingly involved and the demand for WIA services, from both jobseekers and employers, is increasing; and

    WHEREAS, the current “governance structure” under WIA gives a voice to over 15,000 private sector business leaders who volunteer their time and their companies’ resources for the work of the more than 600 local workforce boards. Reopening and expanding the authority of Governors for making such fundamental decisions as the designation of local workforce areas and the degree to which (or even if) local Workforce Investment Boards are utilized, would allow for potentially devastating changes to be made to the workforce infrastructure every election cycle. Such disruption would drive business away, as opposed to attracting employer engagement; and

    WHEREAS, there are currently efforts in several states to dilute or eliminate the local workforce system that not only implements the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) but leverages other public and private funds to address the needs of local businesses and jobseekers,

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls upon Congress to maintain the current governance structure in WIA reauthorization. This includes legislation that:

  • ensures and enhances a continued strong, locally-based, business-led workforce investment system;
  • ensures the appointment of local boards by local elected officials;
  • protects the designation of high-performing workforce areas;
  • maintains but does not expand current WIA waiver authority (beyond the expedited waiver authority);
  • maintains the business majority requirement for membership on State Boards;
  • includes Chief Elected Officials and Local WIB members on the State Boards;
  • focuses the role of the state WIB authority around guidance for development of a comprehensive One-Stop system and does not provide state boards with certification authority over the One Stops;
  • ensures that regional planning is conducted only after first consulting with local boards and local elected officials; and ensures that any regional plan incorporates the plans of each of the local areas within the region;
  • maintains current funding levels to local areas; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that if WIA reauthorization legislation contains WIA Plus, consolidation or any changes to local authority and resources, the legislation must, at a minimum:

  • preserve a local governance structure with appointment authority of local boards by local elected officials;
  • preserve a local delivery system;
  • not shift more program design, decision-making or authority to the Governors,
  • not reduce WIA funds to local areas;
  • recognize the inherently different needs of the adult, dislocated worker and youth populations and the different strategies, and sometimes different systems, required to address their needs;
  • not reduce quality of services to these three populations;
  • not reduce or eliminate current WIA service levels for these three populations;
  • retain current funding levels of Adult, Dislocated Worker and Youth programs;
  • not lessen youth formula dollars to local areas;
  • not allow for the elimination of youth services through a state block grant or any other means; and
  • if a block grant is included, control over how the block grant is used must be devolved to the local workforce investment area level rather than the state; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The U.S. Conference of Mayors opposes any move by any governor to dilute or eliminate local control of the workforce system.

  • ©2005 The U.S. Conference of Mayors
    Tom Cochran, Executive Director
    1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
    Tel. 202.293.7330 ~ Fax 202.293.2352