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Textile News
James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Congressmen Seek Aid For Import-Displaced Workers

By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

US Reps. Robin Hayes, R-N.C., and Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., have introduced legislation that would expand government assistance for textile, apparel and other workers who lose their jobs as a result of import competition. While retraining and other assistance have been available to workers under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act of 1974, the congressmen feel that program is no longer adequate in view of the burgeoning job losses resulting from trade globalization.

In introducing the Trade Adjustment Assistance Reform Act, Hayes said: “The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Act is a good program. I worked hard to expand this program and make it better in the past, but we must make additional changes to help textile and apparel workers in this increasingly competitive global marketplace. While it is good that these workers are going to get extended unemployment benefits, we all know that an unemployment check is no substitute for a paycheck. When workers are displaced, we want to give them the skills to successfully re-enter the workforce.”

The legislation would provide automatic eligibility for TAA benefits for textile and apparel workers. Currently, the Department of Labor rules on each TAA application in 40 days; increases the Health Coverage Tax Credit from 65 percent to 80 percent; simplifies the health tax credit application process; and increases TAA funding authorization from $220 million to $440 million.

Hayes said his legislation eliminates considerable red tape and will serve to get job training benefits to the unemployed faster than ever before. He says it also removes obstacles that have prevented some workers from receiving TAA benefits.

The bill has nine initial co-sponsors — Reps. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., Bob Etheridge, D-N.C., David Price, D-N.C., Howard Coble, R-N.C., Sue Myrick, R-N.C., Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., Heath Shuler, D-N.C., Melvin A. Watt, D-N.C., and Brad Miller, D-N.C.

April l3, 2007