First impressions of the national Workforce
Information Advisory Council
By Chelsea Orvella
SPEEA Legislative Director
Congress passed into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act(WIOA) in the middle of 2014. It reauthorized
workforce development programs previously
funded by the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).
The most familiar is the Dislocated Worker program which helps laid-off workers with training
WIOA also created a new Workforce Information
Advisory Council ( WIAC). Laid-off workers know
too well about the abundance of acronyms in the
workforce development world! Nevertheless, the
WIAC will play an important role in advising the
secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor on
how labor market information (LMI), systems
and analysis can best support workforce development planning and programs.
Per law, the WIAC is made up of four state workforce and Unemployment Insurance (UI) agency
directors, four state LMI directors and single
representatives from business, labor, economic
development, training, workforce development
boards and research. Members represent a cross
section of geographic regions.
Following nominations from IFPTE and the
AFL-CIO, I was appointed by U.S. Secretary
of Labor Thomas Perez to represent labor on
the 14-member WIAC. This opportunity stems
from SPEEA’s multi-year effort to add occupation information to UI wage records via congressional action and our union’s longtime advocacy
for basing high-tech visa caps and other public
policies on sound labor market data.
The WIAC met for the first time last month in
Washington, D.C. This first meeting consisted
of two full days spent setting the foundation for
the work of the Council over the next
three years. Deputy Secretary of Labor
Chris Lu and leaders of the Bureau of
Labor Statistics and the Employment and
Training Administration also addressed
the Council and stressed the importance
of its work.
We spent a large amount of time establishing the strengths and weaknesses of
current labor market information. Of
note, many WIAC members shared
SPEEA’s position that labor market
data would be stronger with occupation
information on UI wage records.
We established what questions LMI should
answer about the economy and jobs and
discussed who is considered a customer
of LMI data. The latter (customer) list
includes students, workers, businesses,
families, education providers, researchers,
workforce and economic development
programs administrators and others. I
came away with the impression that the
WIAC was entirely committed to serving
the interests of all of those stakeholders.
Congress and the U.S. Department of
Labor put emphasis on the ‘Innovation
and Opportunity’ in the Workforce
Innovation and Opportunity Act.
As the WIAC moves forward and we
discuss innovative ways to build upon the already
highly professional LMI system, my role is to
advocate for current and future workers. Our
workforce development system, by statute, is
geared toward employers. The presumption is
when employer needs are met – via placing the
right job candidate in the right job – workers also
benefit. In most cases, that rings true. However,
the labor market is complicated and employer/
employee needs are not always mirrored.
Having a seat at the table allows me to advocate
for data that tells the worker’s story. The LMI
system should capture what workers need and
the opportunities and obstacles they face in their
careers – from education through retirement.
Enriching this information will lead to better
public policies and more informed decisions by
students, workers, businesses and others.
SPEEA Legislative Director Chelsea Orvella is shown here with Dan
Marschall, Ph.D., executive director at the AFL-CIO Working for
America Institute, and Matt Biggs, IFPTE legislative and political
director. Marschall helped place Orvella on the Workforce Information
Advisory Council, where she serves as the representative for workers.
Look for union label when celebrating Labor Day
If you’re celebrating Labor Day Monday, Sept. 5, with a picnic, remember to look for the union label. A number of related picnic products are made by union members.
• Picnic supplies – Weber Q series grill,
coolers by Igloo and Rubbermaid, red plastic Solo cups and sunscreen by Coppertone
and Bain de Soleil
• Hot dogs, sausages, etc. – Ball Park,
Boar’s Head, Hebrew National, Hofmann,
Johnsonville, Oscar Mayer
• Condiments – French’s Mustard, Guldens
Mustard, Heinz Ketchup
• Sodas and bottled water – Bart's, Coke,
Pepsi, Sprite, Poland Spring
• Snacks and dessert – Breyers Ice Cream,
Frito-Lay Chips, Good Humor Ice Cream
See related stories on the AFL-CIO website at
Holiday weekend OT voluntary
Remember – holiday weekend overtime is vol-
Celebrate with other
untary per the SPEEA contracts for Boeing
Profs and Techs, the Wichita Engineering
Unit (WEU) and the Wichita Technical and
Professional Unit (WTPU). See the contracts
online at www.speea.org.
The Martin Luther King Jr. County Labor
Council, AFL-CIO, is planning a different venue
for its annual celebration on Monday, Sept. 5.
‘ Taking it to the Streets’ is scheduled for 11 a.m. to
3 p.m. at the Seattle Labor Temple, on Clay Street,
in Seattle’s Belltown, and also inside in Hall One.
Check out the SPEEA events page online at
www.speea.org for the latest information on
other Puget Sound and Wichita events.