EDITORS NOTE: Click here to sign an online petition demanding that House Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans help workers who have been displaced by unfair trade deals like NAFTA. As of Feb. 15, 2011, the affected TAA benefits revert back to 2002 levels. If you are a displaced worker who needs info about your TAA application, please click here for guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor.
The United Steelworkers (USW) is urging Congress to reinstate funding for the enhanced Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program begun in 2009 that covers service workers and those whose jobs were exported to China or India due to unfair foreign trade.
The program had services slashed over the weekend when Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to block a bill extending the provision. The program assists workers who have been impacted by trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), with job retraining and financial assistance. Opponents are trying to link the passage of future job off-shoring trade agreements to TAA.
Last week's vote reduces services for up to 170,000 Americans, from laid off steelworkers whose work was sent to China to office workers whose jobs have been outsourced to India. The Department of Labor was able to retain the program with reduced funding for one more year, but if Congress does not act to reinstate funding in the next year, tax-paying workers will lose a critical program that assists them in remaining competitive in the global economy.
"Once again, Americans are being put in the middle of a needless political battle and it's working families who are paying the price," said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. "While members of the House and Senate try to win political points and the new leadership focuses on helping corporations and CEOs, tens of thousands of middle class Americans who lost jobs through no fault of their own could see job training and health care disappear."
"These workers were already cheated out of good jobs because of bad trade deals. Now, they're being cheated out of a second chance by their own elected officials, many of whom ran on promises of creating jobs," Gerard said. "This political gamesmanship has to end so that Americans can go back to work."