What Jobs To Move America Misses in its Fight for Good Jobs
By Dwayne Sampson
President of Transportation Diversity Council
Amid the surging and unprecedented layoffs permeating every industry, it is incumbent upon good leadership to communicate to employees about the path forward. Employees and small businesses are hungry for information and rightfully seek affirmation about what comes next amid the chaos and uncertainty.
Before this pandemic struck, our economy was booming but many employers still had challenges filling vacant jobs with skilled workers. An acute skills gap, lack of training and networking, prevented many in our community from finding good-paying jobs to be able to earn a living and provide for their family. That is why New Flyer, in partnership with the Transportation Diversity Council, rolled out a Community Benefits Framework (CBF) to set in motion an increase in apprenticeship programs, oversight and accountability, execution of sustainable business practices and diversify hiring for management and manufacturing jobs.
As a steadfast partner since 2017, New Flyer’s intention to revamp their workplace was straightforward and illustrative of positive change—they sought the guidance and input of the Transportation Diversity Council and others committed to workforce development and diversity to create and build out a community benefits framework that would prioritize business sustainability and retain their pro-employee choice model to accommodate both their unionized and non-unionized workforces across the country.
But like many businesses around the country, this pandemic quickly required abrupt adjustments to workflow and adaptive priorities for New Flyer. From a firm focus on executing on the principles of the CBF, New Flyer was focused on short-term survival to ensure their long-term viability so that many of its employees would have their jobs to return to, once the level of new infection cases of Covid-19 was flattened.
Like many businesses across the country, New Flyer of America made the difficult choice to halt production and idle facilities due to the speed and gravity of COVID-19.
Sadly, Jobs to Move America (JMA) chose to use this pandemic response to amplify their negative campaign against New Flyer. As an independent third party, the Transportation Diversity Council (TDC) was hired to jointly negotiate, manage and enforce all community commitments New Flyer would make, but that was not enough for JMA
In the weeks leading to our current public health crisis, JMA unleashed their attacks on New Flyer by carefully selecting impacted former New Flyer employees to spread distortions about race and gender discrimination via social media. When the world turned upside down with an unfathomable loss of life and depression-level layoffs, JMA accelerated its attacks. Our country’s state of bereavement did not give them pause—instead they sowed confusion and chaos within New Flyer company culture that proved their intense doctrine pursuing a CBA far outweighed anything else. It appears their intent is solely directed at damaging the company amidst an historic pandemic response, without regard to what may befall the New Flyer workforce if the company goes down.
JMA’s posturing is not over. As New Flyer has judiciously moved to reopen facilities and put people back to work with good jobs that offer economic mobility with extensive on-the-job and classroom training, pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs, JMA continues to employ its same tactics to endanger workforce morale when all people want is to work again and earn a living.
New Flyer has undertaken extensive measures to protect employees with stringent social and physical distancing guidelines, continuous cleaning and sanitization measures and additional Personal Protective Equipment requirements for employees. Vilifying companies that provide those jobs and mentorship opportunities puts no one at an advantage. On the contrary, it damages relationships and it endangers our weak economy. Mobilizing the safe restart of business should be priority.
Empathy is needed to truly understand the best path forward as Americans want to go back to work. This is not a time to take advantage of a crisis. It is time to reopen appropriately and give employees their jobs again as we strive to strengthen an inclusive and well-trained workforce toward the future.