USDA Faces Mounting Pressure from Employees, AFGE, Bipartisan Lawmakers to Cancel Plan to Close Job Corps Centers

Categories: USDA, The Insider

The Trump administration’s plan to kill 1,100 jobs by closing nine Forest Service Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers (CCCs) hit a major roadblock as employees, unions, and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle mounted stiff resistance.

Union members bombarded their members of Congress’ offices with calls after the Secretary of Agriculture unveiled a plan to close the nine Job Corps CCCs in various states and transfer the remaining 16 to the Department of Labor to be run by expensive private contractors. The agencies want to accomplish that by Sept. 30.

Condemning the decision, several senators introduced a bipartisan bill that would prohibit the closures of the CCCs in 2019 and 2020. They were joined by their colleagues in sending a letter to USDA and DOL pressuring them to reverse their decision to shut down the centers.

Why these centers need to stay open

The Trump administration’s plan will eliminate jobs for nearly 1,100 Forest Service employees who’ve managed the centers and provided training to thousands of at-risk youth in some of the nation’s most underserved rural communities for more than 50 years. Because of the location of the employees, the move would disproportionately hurt rural communities already strapped for resources.

The Forest Service Job Corps centers train close to 4,000 young adults every year and provide economic opportunities in our country’s most rural areas. Federal employees working in these facilities train young people for conservation and wildland firefighting jobs. The program provides essential vocational and technical training opportunities in rural communities near national forests. Additionally, these students help provide the Forest Service with critical support during natural disasters and wildfires. In 2018, Job Corps students were on the front lines in response to the natural disasters that hit our country, including Hurricane Harvey.

“The administration’s proposal to close these centers will not only starve students of these important opportunities, but it will also eliminate the jobs of the federal employees who staff these facilities and hurt the communities where these employees provide a vital lifeline for disadvantaged and at-risk youth,” said AFGE President J. David Cox Sr.

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