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Arizona's Triumph: A Week of Milestones in Labor, Workforce Development, and Economic Progress

Arizona AFl-CIO Executive Director Fred Yamashita
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What a momentous week this has been here in Arizona, especially in the realm of labor and workforce development! This Monday marked the commencement of the 2nd Regular Session of the 56th Legislature, where Governor Katie Hobbs delivered her impactful second State of the State Address. In her address, Governor Hobbs outlined crucial priorities that directly contribute to the betterment of our state’s workforce. Emphasizing the strength of Arizona’s economy and abundant opportunities resonates deeply with the labor community.

Governor Hobbs proudly highlighted the achievements of 2023, with over fifty-six thousand jobs created, bringing in a staggering thirty-two billion dollars in foreign investment. Translating to more opportunities for working people in Arizona. The Governor worked diligently with the Arizona Commerce Authority, which has successfully attracted high-tech and advanced manufacturing businesses, providing high-quality jobs to our workforce.

Receiving a standing ovation from members on both sides of the aisle, Governor Hobbs passionately called for continued investment in our public schools and increased wages for educators. We applaud her for emphasizing the need for accountability for the ESA voucher program and asserting that every child, no matter their background, deserves an education. Additionally, she is taking action to provide opportunities for Arizonans to succeed through investments in Future48 and the Build It AZ Apprenticeship Initiative, doubling the number of apprentices in the trades and preparing individuals for future industries such as semiconductors, renewable energy, and aerospace. These initiatives promise not only higher education but also access to child care and high-speed internet for our rural and tribal communities.

Addressing the pressing issue of soaring housing prices in the state, Governor Hobbs announced the Arizona Is Home Mortgage Assistance Program. This initiative aims to enhance homebuyer assistance for rural communities, allowing families of four earning seventy-five thousand dollars a year to purchase and qualify for affordable homes. While acknowledging that this won’t solve the statewide crisis, it stands as an effective measure to bring stability and promote equity in the working class.

Among the significant victories this week, the passage of Prevailing Wage Ordinance, is a monumental achievement for our state and its tradespeople. The passage vote, not only in Phoenix, but a unanimous one for the city of Tucson on the same day, is proof of its importance. Starting July 1st, construction companies working on city projects exceeding $4 million or more in Phoenix and $2 million or more in Tucson will be required to pay employees union-level wages and benefits. As Phoenix City Councilwoman stated on Tuesday, “By passing a prevailing wage today, we are sending a clear message that we value our labor force and recognize their available contributions to our city’s growth and prosperity."

The policies and actions taken this week align with the principles and values that the Arizona AFL-CIO holds dear. As we advocate for the well-being and rights of our workers, we recognize the significance of these measures in creating a stronger, more inclusive labor force in our state. The commitment to workforce development, the emphasis on fair wages, and the dedication to addressing housing challenges collectively contribute to creating a supportive environment where the working class can thrive and prosper. This week’s achievements set a positive trajectory for this year.