WASHINGTON— The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) vehemently opposes a plan to close 9 Forest Service Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers (CCC) and transfer the remaining 15 to the Department of Labor to be run by private contractors.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta have announced a plan to end the Forest Service’s role in operating Job Corps CCCs by Sept. 30 — a move the union says is underhanded and misguided.
The Forest Service CCCs are the only remaining federally operated Job Corps programs. If closed, federal jobs will be outsourced to private contractors.
“We’ve seen this time and time again. The administration wants to fire unionized federal employees and contract out their jobs to for-profit companies,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr.
The Trump administration’s plan will eliminate jobs for nearly 1,100 Forest Service employees who manage the centers and provide training to thousands of at-risk youth. Because of the location of the employees, the move would disproportionately affect rural communities already strapped for resources.
“The federal Job Corps program has provided education and training for disadvantaged and at-risk youth in some of the nation’s most underserved rural communities for more than 50 years,” said Cox. “The administration’s proposal to close these centers will not only starve students of these vital 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.”
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.
“This is another in a series of callous, backhanded attempts by Secretary Perdue and the administration to eliminate crucial USDA jobs. Those job losses will be felt by communities across the nation who now need to find alternative resources to help their struggling young people,” said Cox.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are calling on the administration to preserve the Forest Service Job Corps program. AFGE joins the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) in urging Congress not to turn its back on the youth who depend on this program and to reject the administration’s proposal.