Rep. Upthegrove Trying To Save Nonprofit Port Jobs Program
A preliminary state audit questions the Port of Seattle’s contract with the nonprofit “Port Jobs” program, and Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D â€“ Des Moines) is sponsoring a bill that will make sure the program continues.
Since 1993, the private, nonprofit “Port Jobs” program has successfully matched job seekers with employers, as well as provided continuing education and job training opportunities.
â€œIn the past decade, over 14,000 job seekers in South King County have turned to the services of Port Jobs,â€ Upthegrove said. â€œAnd employers know that when a candidate is referred to them through Port Jobs, that personâ€™s qualifications have been thoroughly vetted.â€
Upthegrove is sponsoring House Bill 2651, which specifically authorizes ports to support job placement and training programs that are operated by nonprofit entities. State law already authorizes port districts to contract with nonprofits for economic development. At issue is whether economic development encompasses workforce development.
â€œPort Jobs has connected thousands of job seekers with employers at Sea-Tac Airport, and to apprenticeships in the skilled construction trades. In this economy, we are doing everything we can to get people to work, and to help them stay employed once they get there,â€ said Heather Worthley, Executive Director of Port Jobs. â€œRepresentative Upthegrove’s bill, if passed, will make it crystal clear that the Port of Seattle has the Legislature’s backing to continue to fund this important work.”
The bill passed out of committee in the House and is awaiting possible action on the House floor. Upthegrove is pushing to ensure that the measure passes the House before the February 16 cutoff deadline for House bills.
â€œOur focus this year in Olympia is to create jobs and improve our economy, and this bill is all about jobs,â€ Upthegrove said.
Under the proposed legislation, Port Jobs would be required to submit an annual report to the Port of Seattle detailing the number of successful job placements. In 2009, Port Jobs placed more than 500 people through its Airport Jobs office.
From the Port Jobs website:
Port Jobs is not-for-profit action tank that develops practical programs and supports public policies that increase access to living wage jobs, fostering a more vibrant and equitable economy for residents of and businesses in Seattle and King County. We make good jobs easier to get and good employees easier to find, primarily in the port-related economy.
A 501(c)(3) organization, Port Jobs: engages in innovative research to increase shared knowledge; creates powerful partnerships in key action areas; and develops practical programs that provide important services to jobseekers, employers and our local community.