WASHINGTON, DC – Starting today, workers who lose jobs due to unfair foreign trade competition – with countries like China – will no longer receive retraining assistance through the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. Three petitions, including one from Ohio – filed on behalf of unemployed or underemployed workers at companies who have been undermined by unfair foreign trade competition – were denied due to expiration of expanded authority for TAA passed in 2009. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who secured a short-term extension in December 2010 and has repeatedly sought a long-term extension on the Senate floor, issued the following statement:
“While everyone is focused on the federal deficit, too many have overlooked the trade deficit – the fact that we’re buying way more foreign goods than selling American-made products. This has real implications for American workers,” Brown said. “It’s unconscionable – and bad for our economic recovery efforts – to turn our backs on workers looking to retrain for new work after losing their jobs to unfair foreign trade with countries like China,” Brown said. “Yet too many Washington politicians have obstructed extension of trade adjustment assistance, while arguing for more-of-the-same free trade agreements. I’m committed to a long-term extension of TAA before we consider passing more free trade agreements that have helped contribute to our trade deficit.”
TAA is a package of training and reemployment services designed to help workers—who have lost their jobs as a result of foreign trade—develop the skills they need to find new jobs. Since 2009, more than 170,000 additional trade-impacted workers became eligible for training under the TAA for Workers program. The program, which expired in February, extended TAA assistance to service and manufacturing workers who lose their jobs to countries other than those with which the United States has formal free trade agreements.
TAA in Ohio
Workers formerly employed at Hankook Tire Company, LTD of Uniontown, are among those of the three petitions denied today.
According to the Department of Labor, an estimated 32,389 Ohio workers have been certified for TAA assistance since May 2009—second only to Michigan. Of those workers, an estimated 7,119 workers would not have qualified for TAA under a pre-Recovery Act version of TAA. The pre-Recovery Act version of TAA did not cover service workers or workers who lost jobs due to trade with countries with which the United States does not have a free trade agreement, including China.
In February, Brown led four separate attempts to pass an extension of TAA and the HCTC before the expiration, but each attempt was blocked by Republican Senator John Barrasso (R-WY.) Earlier this month, Brown led a group of 14 senators on a letter to members of House leadership, including House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, urging them to pass an extension of TAA in the House. As one of the last acts before 111th Congress adjourned, Brown secured a six-week extension of the TAA program, including an extension of the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC), a program that helps trade-affected and other dislocated workers afford private health insurance. Brown fought to extend the program for 18 months, but the Senate only cleared a six-week extension, leaving it up to the new Congress to reconsider the issue.