With a campaign focused on workers’ rights, Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley announced her economic plan to create more union construction jobs that would expand training programs and require Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for construction projects costing over $10 million if she is elected.
Whaley, the former mayor of Dayton, announced her plan on Sept. 7 at the Communications Workers of America Hall in Columbus.
Part of her plan would allocate $65 million in additional federal and state funding toward apprenticeship readiness programs to train over 17,000 union construction workers. The money would come from a combination of the national Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Service.
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine and his predecessor, Republican John Kasich, did not invoke an executive order to mandate PLAs. Whaley spokeswoman Courtney Rice told The Plain Dealer Whaley could establish the requirement through executive action and would not need legislative approval.
Rice also admitted the funds would have to be approved by the Republican-dominated Ohio General Assembly, which could prove challenging.
Whaley’s plan would not only raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, but it would also prohibit companies who actively oppose union drives from receiving state incentives or tax reductions.
Whaley’s One Good Job Pledge maintains that one good job should be enough to raise a family anywhere in Ohio.
The key to the plan, according to Whaley, is to invest in union apprenticeship readiness programs for high schoolers looking to get into a trade.
“Kids in high school today don’t have regular shop classes, and so they’re not ready to head right into the apprenticeship program,” Whaley told WYSO. “So these readiness programs get kids or people wanting to change careers, ready to go into apprenticeship programs.”
Whaley alleged the DeWine administration has only focused its economic development efforts in the Columbus area and has ignored other parts of the state.
“They’re perfectly fine leaving places like Dayton or Mansfield or Marietta behind,” she said, according to The Plain Dealer. “I’m promising something different. My administration is going to be laser-focused on bringing economic opportunity to every corner of our state.”
DeWine campaign spokeswoman Tricia McLaughlin told The Plain Dealer a number of companies have either moved to Ohio or expanded within the state since DeWine took office. The list includes Sherwin-Williams, who is building a new headquarters in Cleveland and a R&D facility in a nearby suburb. She also pointed to Nestle-Purina, which plans to build a $550 million pet-food factory in Clermont County.