Press Release

With 56 Outstanding TAA Petitions in New York, Gillibrand Fights to Secure More Aid for Laid-Off Workers

Jul 24, 2009

Washington, D.C. – Amidst
continued job losses for New York workers, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is
working to secure more resources for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) – a
federal program that provides aid to workers who lose their jobs or whose wages
are reduced as a result of increased imports. According to the Department of
Labor, there are 56 outstanding TAA petitions in New York State alone.

Gillibrand this week urged the Department of Labor to allocate the resources
necessary to meet the increased demand for TAA and expedite TAA funding from
the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that is currently being held
up by bureaucracy.

“Especially during this difficult economic
time, there is nothing more disheartening for a family than losing a job,”
Senator Gillibrand said. “TAA provides financial assistance and training
programs that are made to help workers find a good-paying job as soon as
possible. We can’t afford to let bureaucracy stand in the way of relief for New
York workers who have experienced the worst of this economic crisis.”

TAA is a federal program that provides
aid to workers who lose their jobs or whose hours of work and wages are reduced
as a result of increased imports or outsourcing. The program extends benefits
including training for employment in another job or career, income support, job
search allowance, and relocation allowances. Qualified workers may quickly
return to employment through a combination of these services.

year, 92 petitions for TAA benefits were filed from New York, 64 of which have
been certified. According to the Congressional Research Service, more than $9
million in TAA benefits were directed to New York last year and about 650
workers entered the TAA training program.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expanded the pool of eligible
TAA recipients and increased available TAA funds from $200 million to $575
million – changes that went into effect in May 2009. Despite efforts from the
Labor Department to implement the expansions, paperwork has slowed getting
relief to workers who need it most. In fact from May 18-22, TAA received 520
petitions for aid and has only made determinations on 109. In the same timeframe
last year, TAA received 31 applications and made determinations on 30.

This week, Senator Gillibrand and 14 of her Senate colleagues called on Labor
Secretary Hilda Solis to make sure this increase in relief isn’t held up in
government bureaucracy and kept out of the hands of displaced New York workers
who need it most, and is also requesting the Department make more information
available to help petitioners navigate the TAA application process. In their
letter, the Senators wrote, “We believe that TAA funding is helping transform
our workforce and sow the seeds of economic recovery in communities across
America.  The quicker eligibility determinations are completed; the sooner
petitioners nationwide can join in the opportunities of this new era. We strongly
support changes that will accelerate the processing of TAA petitions and urge
the Department of Labor to consider these recommendations.”