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Congressman Al Green Introduces Bill to Provide Transition Opportunities For Johnson Space Center Employees
This week, Congressman Al Green (TX-09) has introduced the Johnson Space Center Workforce Stability Act of 2010 (H.R. 5855) in the House of Representatives which aims at allocating $80 million over two years to implement transition programs to assist the employees of the Johnson Space Center (JSC) who are at risk of losing their jobs due to the cancellation of NASA’s Constellation Program and other changes with NASA’s budget.
The bill directs the Department of Labor to develop training programs for JSC’s affected workers who will have to look for new jobs. The bill provides $10 million in FY 2011 and FY 2012 for this initiative.
“I would like the Department of Labor to establish one-stop career centers that will specifically address the professional possibilities that the valuable and skillful JSC workers can bring to the regional and national job market," Congressman Al Green said. "These centers would provide them with training referrals, career counseling, job listings and similar employment-related services."
Since the Administration’s proposed changes at NASA would also impact the businesses within the geographical area where JSC is located, the bill requires the Department of Commerce to set up cooperative agreements with eligible state and local recipients to promote new economic growth and stabilize the local workforce. Acting through its Economic Development Administration, the Department would provide financial and technical assistance to implement business ventures and entrepreneurial networks among the businesses and professionals affected by the changes at JSC.
“The Department of Commerce will be able to draw down on its resources to create an economic stability program to promote economic growth in the JSC region and assist the dislocated workers in starting projects based on their specific skill set," Congressman Al Green said.
Congressman Pete Olson (TX-22) has signed on as an original cosponsor for the bill, signaling the bi-partisan spirit of the initiative.
“Congressman Green’s bill is an important compliment to the NASA authorization bill that my colleagues and I moved through the House Science Committee last week. That bill ensures that the work done at the Johnson Space Center on behalf of Constellation and the future of human space flight will continue, ensuring this highly skilled group of workers remains active and engaged in the aerospace community," Congressman Pete Olsen said. "Rep. Green’s bill will provide an additional resource to those who may need it going forward. Most importantly, these funds will not come from NASA’s overstretched budget."
Last June, the Administration proposed an amendment to the FY 2011 budget request that would set aside $40 million from NASA’s FY 2011 budget on transition efforts for Kennedy Space Center employees who would also be affected by NASA’s new direction.
“Our bill provides the JSC workforce the same opportunities that Kennedy Space Center employees will have in terms of getting effective assistance to look for new employment in a very competitive job market,” Congressman Al Green said.
The Greater Houston Partnership and the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership estimate that if the Constellation program is not continued in the Administration's FY 2011 budget, the Johnson Space Center could lose up to 7,000 direct and indirect jobs with a resulting loss of income and expenditures reaching $1 billion in the Houston region.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) and Congressman Gene Green (TX-29) have also signed as cosponsors of the bill.