Solis checks in on job-training programs

March 18, 2009 5:31:30 PM PDT
Newly-minted Labor Secretary Hilda Solis visited the Bay Area Tuesday to see firsthand some job-training programs.

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The programs received tens of millions of dollars from the government. Because the economic turnaround depends on new jobs, Secretary Solis wanted to see them for herself.

A construction project at the end of Mason Street serves as both job-training and a source of jobs for young people who might not have a shot at a job, even in better times.

It is the kind of program the Labor Secretary says the government will continue to support.

21-year old Dominic Antoine got to talk with Solis, something he never imagined would never happen when he was getting out of jail a couple years ago.

The Labor Department helps fund Glide's Youthbuild Program. Youthhbuild is getting $70 million in stimulus money for job training nationwide.

Antoine is a graduate and is now employed on a downtown construction project.

"I'm trying to buy a house by the age of 29. Got to really work. Got to really work to get there," the apprentice carpenter said.

With the state's unemployment rate at more than 10 percent and construction unemployment two to three times that, Antoine could have a hard time getting that house.

For those still out of work, unemployment benefits have been increased and extended.

The Obama administration is giving $3.5 billion to the states for education, job training and re-employment services.

And, now the government will pay 65 percent of Cobra Health costs, leaving 35 percent for the individual, for up to nine months. It applies to people whose jobs were terminated between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009.

Solis is now pushing for the state to help those who will need more assistance.

"So, part-time workers and also people that have been recently laid off, and they havent had enough corridors to get say, unemployment insurance, will be eligible.So, it needs a change in law and we need to get our legislature and governor to sign that law," she said.

At San Francisco's Swords to Plowshares, Solis met vets whose needs cover the gamut.

56-year old Marine Corps veteran Ed Judice had a double bypass after a heart attack three years ago. He just found out Monday he cannot get social security and full VA benefits at the same time. He was getting $1700 a month. Now he will live on $988.

"When is she going to start helping veterans that need housing and need more money? I can't survive on this, he told ABC7."

Soilice told Judice she is continuing to try and help veterans with ongoing job training and job placement.

On the state's unemployment monetization bill that Solis is pushing to be passed, she says if it passes it would mean $844 million for the state over the next three years.

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