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Jobs Bank: Right Idea, Wrong Program Says Ohio Congressman

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Many see jobs bank programs – those labor contract provisions that guarantee workers a paycheck when there’s no work to do - as way over the top relative to the income security most Americans can expect. GM and Chrysler have just done away with theirs. Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, whose constituents include thousands of auto workers, says he understands the disdain toward the programs, but hopes the country can take a lesson from them. Ideastream’s Bill Rice reports.

Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 9:17 pm

Tim Ryan is a democrat, and generally a friend to labor. His district is home to General Motors’ Lordstown assembly plant, where more than two thousand workers have lost their jobs since last summer. But he says paying workers who are not actually working is simply unreasonable today.

Ryan: The dynamism of the economy and the rapid changes we’re going through with technology and everything, has meant to a certain degree that that’s not going to be possible, and it’s not going to be possible certainly in the short term for companies like General Motors.

Still, Ryan sees the goal of jobs banks as a worthy aspiration. They were created back in the 1980s, when competition from Japanese automakers was on the rise, and those companies were guarantying their employees jobs for life. That won’t happen here, Ryan says, but…

Ryan: If we address some of the other issues in the country – if everyone in the country does have health care, if everyone in the country can afford to go to college, then these kind of transitional periods where people move from one job to the other become less stressful, less tenuous.

The United Auto Workers Union agreed to give up the jobs bank programs to shore up support for granting federal bridge loans to U.S. automakers. Ford, which has not borrowed any money from the feds, still has its jobs bank in place.

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