A job seeker views employment listings in Pasadena, California
Washington (AFP) - The US Labor Department announced plans on Wednesday to update and streamline an assistance program designed to help workers who lose their jobs due to competition with foreign companies.
The changes would make it easier for some workers to apply for help if they have been harmed by trade, broadening the definition of who may be included, slightly increasing some payments and providing a “one-stop shop” for applying and receiving assistance.
Voter anger at the perceived harm done to American workers by foreign trade help sweep President Donald Trump into the White House and he has used that sentiment to drive his aggressive stance on trade, imposing tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in trade from China and elsewhere and threatening even more.
The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers (TAA) Program last received a major overhaul in 1994 to help ease the way for passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
But since then “state agencies have used a combination of outdated rules and patchworks of administrative guidance to operate the program,” John Pallasch of the Employment and Training Administration said in a statement.
The proposed changes will now include teleworkers “because they are frequently performing the same work as other trade-affected workers,” and allows just two workers to apply as a “group” eligible for relief, rather than three.
It provides for expansion of apprenticeship training, “to accommodate workers in disciplines that lack training opportunities,” and increases training and relocation allowances to $1,250 each from $800 previously, according to the proposal.
Among other changes, the rules would broaden the definition of an “adversely affected worker” to include company executives at an impacted firm as well as employees who receive severance.
The Labor Department will receive comments from the public for several weeks before publishing the final rule.