Unions are set for an "extremely difficult" battle in Congress to save the CETA job-training program from becoming a casualty of President Reagan's budget slashing.
The administration has asked Congress to cut CETA -- the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act -- this year and to eliminate it entirely in 1982 by withdrawing $3.1 billion proposed for it in the final Carter administration budget.
The program was adopted seven years ago as part of President Nixon's "New Federalism" plan for drastic changes in the way federal aid would be allotted to local governments. The White House now is in the position of attacking a Republican program that was taken over as a liberal cause.
The administration sees CETA as "a $53 billion investment that hasn't worked, " says Assistant Secretary of Labor Albert Angrisani. Designed as a program to train those chronically unemployed and to help place them in jobs, CETA now is a massive program that provides little training, according to Mr. Angrisani.
Many local governments are abusing the program, he says, by using CETA funds to pay regular employees. Some 310,000 jobs will be involved if President Reagan moves to shut down CETA. According to Angrisani, it will be a shift from "direct government hiring and government-directed training toward greater involvement by the private sector."
As a start, thousands of CETA-paid public service employees have been laid off because federal subsidies for their jobs have been chopped. Others will be laid off as cutbacks continue, at a rate of about 47,500 a month.