This opinion piece was written and submitted by Tammy Johnson is the leader of Wyoming’s largest federation of unions, and a former long-time public high school teacher in Laramie.
All of us are rightfully proud of the critical work done by oil and gas workers in Wyoming, and understandably concerned about the double impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and crashing energy prices on those working families.
That’s why the Wyoming State AFL-CIO’s 18,000 members applaud Governor Mark Gordon for launching the Energy Rebound Program with federal CARES Act money. Done right, this cash will put hundreds of oil and gas workers back to work in the state. Yet this effort will miss its mark, if these dollars are not specifically earmarked to provide jobs to Wyoming workers.
Too often, Wyoming public investments fail to support Wyoming workers but instead line the pockets of rich and powerful corporations, who hire low-cost out-of-state workers. Enough is enough.
Working people in Wyoming want and need jobs. That’s how we afford to provide for ourselves and our families, and to support small businesses across the state.
Gov. Gordon can easily employ “local hire” language in the Wyoming Reboot Program. That language would help put Wyoming workers back on the payroll. We can compete with any workers anywhere, if we have a level playing field, and if corporations are held to the same standards as the rest of us.
For instance, some people say defining a Wyoming worker is too hard and so cannot be done, but that’s a flimsy excuse, and we reject it. After all, Wyoming colleges have a simple system to define who gets to pay in-state tuition, and who doesn’t, and our state and local institutions define where and whether a person can run for public office, license a vehicle or pay taxes. It will be just as easy to define a “Wyoming worker.”
The bottom line is that CARES money is Wyoming money, meant to lift up Wyoming’s workers and working families, who are the backbone of our great state. That’s why the 18,000 members of the Wyoming State AFL-CIO respectfully ask our governor to keep our money in Wyoming to benefit those of us who live and work here. Please join us in making this request by calling and writing Gov. Gordon’s office.
Thank you, and I hope each and every one of you has a safe and enjoyable holiday season, and a prosperous year.