Companies seek Trade Adjustment Assistance in Stimulus

Technology corporations and contractors are urging Congress to put job-training money in the final version of the economic stimulus package.

Groups that include the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) and the Computing Technology Industry Association, along with companies such as Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft, wrote to House and Senate leaders today on the job training measures.

The companies are asking Congress to include proposed legislation known as the Trade and Globalization Adjustment Assistance Act of 2009 into the final stimulus bill. The updated trade adjustment assistance act would authorize Trade Adjustment Assistance through 2010, expand eligibility to service sector and public sector workers, and redesign benefits to make them more flexible.

The Senate included language to temporarily extend trade assistance in its version of the stimulus bill that it approved on Feb. 10. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and the ranking members of both committees said in a joint statement Feb. 5 that they support including the updated trade adjustment assistance language in the stimulus bill.

“By expanding Trade Adjustment Assistance coverage to service workers and more manufacturing workers, encouraging longer-term training and increasing training funds to $575 million, we can help trade-affected workers get the assistance they need to obtain new, good paying jobs,” Rangel said

While trade adjustment assistance job training in the past was focused on manufacturing jobs lost to global trade, the updated trade language would expand eligibility to service and public sector employees. Several information technology trade groups and companies have joined in the lobbying effort to include those provisions in the stimulus legislation.

“Trade adjustment assistance traditionally was for manufacturing, but when you are a software developer, you are not necessarily engaging in manufacturing,” Mark Bohannon, general counsel and senior vice president for SIIA, said. “This will help in preparing people for new jobs and different kind of jobs. Given that the stimulus bill is focused squarely on how we create new jobs and look at helping people make the transition, I think the leadership felt this was a good opportunity to include the trade assistance.”


About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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