Multiple government-managed Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) job centers in rural communities that faced closure and privatization will remain in place after coordinated pushback against the Trump administration’s plans.
As Grit Post reported last week, the Trump administration had announced plans to close multiple rural job centers and possibly put others under private management. Under the proposal, 16 of 25 rural job centers operating under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Agriculture would have been managed by the Department of Labor, and would have likely then been privatized. The remaining nine would have been permanently shuttered.
But according to Oregon-based publication Willamette Week, that plan has now been scuttled thanks to pressure from Oregon’s Congressional delegation, and all of the rural job centers will remain in place. Legislation sponsored by Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) to keep the rural job centers open successfully passed the House of Representatives, and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and pressured him to support it. He hailed the administration’s decision as a “huge victory” for rural, working-class Americans.
“Today’s news is a huge victory for the people of Oregon and for rural communities across the country,” Merkley stated. “In Oregon alone, CCC students have provided hundreds of thousands of hours of support fighting wildfires and making our forests more resilient to fire. At a time when the West has faced devastating, back-to-back fire seasons, dismantling the CCCs was a reckless and wrong-headed decision.”
A bipartisan letter to the administration from members of Congress defended the CCCs as necessary job training in predominantly low-income communities in 16 states, which help provide vocational training for youth between the ages of 16 and 24.
“These centers not only help support these underserved youth and young adults with invaluable job training, but they also provide essential capacity for the U.S. Forest Service to fulfill its mission and provide economic opportunities in rural areas,” the letter read.
This news means that, for now, working-class youths in low-income communities outside of major urban areas will be able to continue learning valuable job skills, courtesy of the federal government.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.