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Press Release: Fitzhugh Attends Bill Signing for Tennessee Works Act

Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2012, at 3:04 PM

Rep. Fitzhugh with Governor Bill Haslam at the bill signing.
NASHVILLE,TN -- State Representative Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) was in Nashville on Tuesday attending the ceremonial bill signing for his Tennessee Works Act of 2012. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Fitzhugh and signed by Governor Bill Haslam, will help move displaced workers off unemployment and back into jobs.

"The great thing about this legislation is that it's not just another entitlement, it actually requires people to work in order to receive their benefits. At the same time, companies get to train a new employee at little to no cost. So by the time the training is done, the displaced worker has a new job and the company has a highly-trained employee. Its win-win," said Fitzhugh.

The Tennessee Works Act, modeled after successful programs in Georgia and New Jersey, will allow dislocated workers to receive on the job training at private companies, while continuing to receive their unemployment benefits for eight weeks. After the eight week period, the company providing the training in lieu of pay will have the opportunity to hire the retrained worker in a full-time capacity. Only employers who demonstrate a pattern of continued employment of retrained workers will be eligible for these grants.

"In Georgia, the Commissioner of Labor estimated that the program saved the state some $6,000,000 in unemployment insurance, while nearly two-thirds of participants found work within three months of completing the program. That's real success. I'm hopeful we can replicate that for the 800,000 Tennesseans currently without a job."

The Tennessee Works Act, funded with federal dollars, will be administered by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, with oversight from the House and Senate Commerce Committees. The program will initially function as a pilot project set to expire in 2014, at which point lawmakers can opt for renewal.

"My number one job as a State Representative is to help get people back to work. We need to try every way possible to make that happen. I think the Tennessee Works Act is a good start and I look forward seeing real results."

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