Senator Collins Emphasizes Importance of TAA Program to Secretary of Labor Nominee

Senator Collins: “The Trade Adjustment Assistance program has been crucial in helping many Maine workers who have been hit very hard by mill closures and shuttered factories get the skills they need for the jobs in higher demand industries”

Click HERE to watch Senator Collins’ Q&A with Alex Acosta

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, questioned Secretary of Labor Nominee Alex Acosta about his views on Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) at a confirmation hearing today. TAA, a Department of Labor program, provides trade-affected workers with a variety of reemployment services and benefits to help them find new jobs and get back to work. Senator Collins has long championed this crucial lifeline for workers in Maine and across the nation.

“The Trade Adjustment Assistance program has been crucial in helping many Maine workers who have been hit very hard by mill closures and shuttered factories get the skills they need for the jobs in higher demand industries,” said Senator Collins. “For example, in fiscal year 2015, 740 Mainers benefited from TAA, and more than 70 percent of those who went through TAA-provided education or retraining found employment within 3 months of completing the program. The so-called skinny budget that was released last week proposed large cuts in the Department of Labor, but it's unclear what happens to TAA. What is your view on that program?

“You provided data that shows how successful that program has been,” Mr. Acosta responded. “Based on your information, I hope that the program remains because it sounds like it's incredibly successful at least in your state.”

Senator Collins followed up on her question about TAA by drawing attention to older workers who are out of work and have difficulty finding employment.

“Despite the success of the TAA program, there is a category of workers in my state who are older workers and who are in many ways the forgotten stories of this economic recovery,” Senator Collins noted. “It's very difficult to tell someone who is 54 years old…that they need to retrain for a new job or leave a community that’s been their home for their entire life.”

Senator Collins asked Mr. Acosta what ideas he had for helping older workers who have lost their jobs to mill closures or other factors find employment. Mr. Acosta replied that the government needs to work with these individuals and local governments to understand what assistance would be the most effective and beneficial.