The federal Trade Act allows recently laid-off workers to be retrained for free, but can it offset the loss of jobs to other countries?
The federal Trade Act was expanded last year, allowing workers whose jobs have been “off-shored” to be trained in another trade for free.
However, even supporters of the program agree that it cannot make up for the loss of Oregon jobs due to free-trade pacts.
In the past year, the U.S. Labor Department certified 10,902 Oregon workers as eligible for retraining and other Trade Adjustment Assistance because they lost jobs due to free-trade pacts, according to data compiled by the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign. The campaign’s director, Arthur Stamoulis, says those lost jobs are evidence that unfair trade policies, not just a sour economy, are partly to blame for Oregon’s stubbornly high unemployment.
If the sole reason for Oregon’s huge job losses is the recession, says Greg Pallesen, vice president of Portland-based Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers, then why is China booming right now?
In some ways, Pallesen says, the Trade Act was designed to mollify Congressional and citizen fears that free-trade policies would sacrifice too many American jobs. “It sounds terrible, but I almost believe this country would have been better off if the Trade Act had never passed.”
Read more at the Portland Tribune.