On Tuesday, December 14, Curtis Lumber of Ballston Spa, NY hosted Representative Elise Stefanik (NY District 21) in its corporate office for a private legislative event. At the event, Rep. Stefanik introduced the proposed Employer Directed Skills Act which will “empower job creators to determine the skills their workforce needs, streamline the process for workers to access skills development, and leverage private sector investments to make employers a stakeholder in the reskilling process” (Source).
Lumber and building materials (LBM) dealers, home builders, and career and technical education (CTE) leaders were given the opportunity to address their needs and concerns with Rep. Stefanik. Discussions regarding the tariff increase and workforce development were held in an interactive, conversational Q&A format. Rep. Stefanik then proceeded to tour Curtis Lumber in an effort to speak with employees and get a better understanding of the challenges faced by the LBM industry, from the perspective of those on the front line.
Regarding the tariff increase, the bottom line is the LBM industry’s need for stability, and trade agreements (such as the Softwood Lumber Agreement with Canada) are stabilizers. Rep. Stefanik, who is a member of the Northern Border Caucus, assured attendees that she will bring this issue to her team. When it comes to workforce development, the retail industry has the third highest quit rate (4%) and only 17% of high school students go into CTE. That number needs to rise to 40% to meet this nation’s labor demand. Rep. Stefanik ensured those at the event that workforce development for the trades is at the forefront of her legislative agenda.
Rep. Stefanik advised those in attendance that the best way to get their issues in front of our legislators is to reach out directly to their local offices, as hearing from their constituents is legislators’ number one priority. In other words, focusing on state issues is the key to effective federal legislation.
ABMA will continue to prioritize the adoption of a new Softwood Lumber Agreement and workforce development issues.