Idaho workers have always embraced technology and change, and we are doing it now as part of a coordinated, statewide effort to raise pay, improve benefits and lift up our working families.

That’s why, this week, representatives from three major unions — the Electrical Workers, Ironworkers and Painters — will join the leadership of the Idaho AFL-CIO at the Governor's Summit on the Future of Work: Age of Agility in Boise.

We want to find ways for innovation and technological progress to benefit everyone in Idaho.

As working people, we are taking a real seat at the table when it comes to the design and deployment of innovation and new technologies. The question isn’t whether we will adapt to technological change but how we will join with employers to make jobs safer, more efficient and more secure.

Technology never falls from the sky. It is developed through public policy choices, and by businesses and working people in our workplaces. The origins of the biggest changes come from sustained public investment in basic research, yet it takes the marketplace to find avenues to put those innovations to work. That’s how good business gets better.

Here in Idaho, our workers are ready to shape the ways technology will be implemented.

Our union members know our industries. We will help align business and community needs. We’ll help pull the puzzle pieces together with new ways to train workers, so we don’t have to listen to employers complain about not being able to find qualified workers.

It always shocks people to hear that the building and construction, trades along with our signatory contractors, invest almost $1.9 billion a year in Registered Apprenticeships and journey-level training - delivered at 1,900 training centers across the country.

The unions in the building and construction trades aren’t alone. We also design and deliver training in manufacturing, healthcare and other services. In fact, we’re designing a new manufacturing curriculum in Idaho right now.

Yet technology never makes change without disruption. Automation and technology will displace workers and disrupt families. Our unions are committed to making sure workers have good jobs to transition to, with career-quality pay and benefits, and the chance to bargain collectively in unions for a fair share of what we produce.

The best solution for an individual worker who loses a job is to find a better job quickly. Training, education and income support can play important supporting roles, but good jobs should be readily available.

One of the best fields for good jobs in the decade ahead will be rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure. It is an opportunity, nationally, which will put millions of people to work in good union jobs. Also, millions of additional good jobs can be created by investing, organizing and raising labor standards in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries.

These are big goals, and we are working on them right here in Idaho this week.

Joe Maloney, 

Filer