Tester Continues Push for Department of Labor to Reopen Montana Job Corps to In-Person Activities

Senator: “It seems there remains a serious disconnect between locations in Montana and Washington, DC”

Following months of delay in reopening Montana Job Corps to in-person activities, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is again urging the U.S. Department of Labor to reconsider current federal guidance that restricts in-person enrollment.

“While I appreciate and agree with the program monitoring guidance from the CDC and state and local health officials, it seems there remains a serious disconnect between locations in Montana and Washington, DC,” wrote Tester in a letter to Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Suzan LeVine. “I am again requesting the review of current guidance to allow for case-by-case resumption of in-person enrollment and participation in Montana’s Civilian Conservation Corps centers without further delay. The Forest Service operates the day to day operations of these centers and has successfully managed close-quarters operations such as fire camps throughout the pandemic. As such, the agency is well equipped to properly oversee important in-person functions like the Anaconda and Trapper Creek CCC’s in a safe and effective manner.”

In May, Tester sent a letter to Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, encouraging both departments to move forward in reopening Montana’s two Job Corps Civilian Conservation Corps Centers in Anaconda and Trapper Creek to in-person enrollment and activities.

A response letter from Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary LeVine provided little clarity on when both Montana’s CCC’s might be able to resume in-person activities, leaving hundreds of young Montanans without access to these hands-on job training programs. Additionally, Montana’s Job Corps students and staff play important roles in wildland firefighting and support efforts- something especially critical during the statewide drought.

Tester has been Montana’s leading champion defending the Trapper Creek and Anaconda Job Corps Centers. In 2019, when the Trump Administration attempted to close or privatize the centers, Tester led the fight to reverse the decision. After sustained pressure from Tester, the Administration caved and kept the centers open, but Tester still pushed legislation through Congress and into law to protect the centers moving forward.

Job Corps Civilian Conservation Corps Centers operate in 17 national forests and grasslands across 16 states-including Montana-and train over 4,000 young adults a year, many of whom are at-risk youth from low-income, rural communities, providing critical skills to help them succeed in a 21st century economy.

Read Tester’s full letter to Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary LeVine HERE.