Communications Workers of America District 9, in partnership with the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District, receives a federal grant for the Statewide Worker-Controlled Fiber Optic Technician Training Program in California | Panda Anku

The $5.8 million grant will enable CWA District 9 to facilitate the training of California workers to become fiber optic technicians, raise industry labor standards, and connect underrepresented populations to quality employment opportunities as part of nationwide broadband deployment

CALIFORNIA — Amid the multi-billion dollar broadband rollout in California, Communications Workers of America District 9 (CWA) partnered with the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District (CLPCCD). awarded a $5.8 million grant to expand its fiber technician apprenticeship programs at its existing training center in San Jose and three other locations throughout California. Through the U.S. Department of Labor Apprenticeship Building America grant, CWA and CLPCCD will raise labor standards in a fragmented labor market where the construction and maintenance of broadband connections are often subcontracted to off-highway contractors who compromise worker safety and service quality.

CWA’s grant comes as California plans to provide more than $5 billion for a state-owned mid-mile fiber optic network and subsidies for providers of last-mile broadband connections to homes, businesses and community facilities outlined in Senate Bill 156 and were signed in July 2021. California will also receive hundreds of millions of dollars more for last mile deployments under the Infrastructure Act Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. This large-scale public investment requires a nationwide workforce of well-trained fiber technicians, which CWA intends to expand by offering quality education and financial support to trainees.

“Our apprenticeship program has provided a path for Californians to access well-paying union jobs,” he said Frank Arce, Vice President of CWA District 9. “This funding gives us the opportunity to significantly expand broadband education and ensure our focus is on recruiting underrepresented and underserved communities for good jobs building communications networks for California.”

Because labor management education programs are proving to be more effective at graduating workers and connecting them to quality jobs than employer-only programs, CWA will seek employer partners who see value in raising standards and investing in California communities. CWA will use this funding to build three new labor management apprenticeship programs located in the northern, central and southern portions of the state and to expand the existing Bay Area apprenticeship program.

These programs will increase awareness and acceptance of the apprenticeship model as a viable route for training skilled workers in fiber optics, while also increasing the diversity of applicants entering the programs by exceeding a threshold of at least 20 percent young people , Blacks, Women and Veterans in each of the programs over the four year period.

“CLPCCD’s Apprenticeship Program has served as the local education agency for the Communications Workers of America’s District 9 apprenticeship program since 2010, supporting the classroom portion of college credit and creating an associate degree career path for their trainees,” he said Julia Dozier, District Executive Director of Economic Development and Contract Education at CLPCCD. “CWA District 9 trainees gain skills for a lifelong career while working in a paying job from day one. We are excited to expand our partnership to support CWA trainees across the state of California through this program that will bring broadband justice to all.”

To address employee retention across the industry, CWA District 9 plans to establish an educational ladder to allow trainees the opportunity to continue their education through an associate’s degree. CWA’s apprenticeship program will also create direct incentives for employers to invest in a skilled workforce by covering critical training and equipment costs for apprentices. This includes payment of all tuition expenses not covered by California’s related and supplemental educational materials funds during the duration of the fellowship and providing all trainees with necessary tools and personal protective equipment. The scholarship will also offer an Employer Bootcamp program as a recruitment tool where potential employers can experience the training program. CWA also seeks funding to reimburse employers for apprentice wages and benefits during the apprenticeship.

As California prepares to connect unserved and underserved communities to high-speed broadband, CWA will work with public authorities, educational institutions, community organizations and other stakeholders to support a local, diverse workforce ready to build the fiber future.


About CWA: The Communications Workers of America represents working people in the telecommunications, customer service, media, airline, healthcare, public service and education, and manufacturing sectors. @cwaunion

Via Chabot-Las Positas Community College District: CLPCCD serves students in the San Francisco East Bay Area, particularly in southern Alameda County, through its two colleges: Chabot College in Hayward and Las Positas College in Livermore. CLPCCD is governed by a seven-member Board of Trustees, which is responsible for all policy decisions. Board members are elected by registered voters from nine trustee area communities: Castro Valley, Dublin, Hayward, Livermore, Pleasanton, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Sunol and Union City, California.

Leave a Comment