Trade agreements have wreaked havoc on Ohio’s economy over the past several decades, undermining Ohio’s manufacturing sector and making it easier for corporations to ship our jobs overseas. When Congress considered NAFTA, CAFTA, and every other free trade agreement, we were promised that they would create tens of thousands of jobs.
But those jobs never materialized, and it’s American workers who have paid the price.
That’s why the Trade Adjustment Assistance, or TAA, program is so important. TAA ensures that workers who lose their jobs and financial security as a result of globalization have an opportunity to transition to new jobs in emerging sectors of the economy. TAA can’t correct all of the consequences of our misguided trade policy, but it can help retrain trade-affected workers for new jobs.
But unless Congress acts now, the TAA program will expire in September, leaving too many Ohioans who have lost their jobs due to foreign trade without much-needed job retraining assistance. That’s why this week I introduced the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act to extend and expand TAA.
Between 2009 and 2014 TAA provided job retraining assistance to more than 20,000 Ohio workers. But the current program also leaves too many workers behind. Ohioans losing jobs to countries like China, with which the U.S. doesn’t have a free trade agreement, and service sector workers are left out of TAA.
My bill will change that, and expand eligibility to reflect the realities of our 21st century global economy.
We need to put an end to short-term fixes and pass a long-term extension of TAA to give Ohio families security and support.
This is particularly important as Congress moves to consider even more trade deals. Instead of pursuing a trade agenda that leaves the middle class behind, we should think about the working families who’ve already felt the brunt of bad trade agreements. We need to ensure that they have robust assistance necessary to compete in a global economy.
Our workers are the most productive and competitive in the world, and it is in our own economic interest to retrain workers who have been laid off because of trade.