IBM Workers To Receive Federal Aid

DOL says Big Blue services employees who lost jobs to offshoring can receive benefits under the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.
Workers laid off from IBM's operations on behalf of The Hartford insurance company in Connecticut are eligible to receive benefits under the government's Trade Adjustment Assistance program, according to a notice published Monday in the Federal Register.

Under the program, the workers can get government subsidized training for new jobs, income supplements, healthcare tax credits, and other benefits.

The Hartford began paring down its IT staff after outsourcing a number of tech and back office jobs to IBM in 2007. 110 IT staffers were initially let go, and IBM subsequently laid off a number of former Hartford workers that were transferred to Big Blue under the outsourcing deal as the company moved a number of the positions offshore.

The Department of Labor's ruling that Hartford and IBM workers are eligible for TAA benefits applies to those who lost their jobs on August 27, 2009.

The DOL found that the workers met an eligibility requirement that there was "a shift by the workers' firm to a foreign country in the production of articles or supply of services like or directly competitive with those supplied by the workers' firm."

It was not immediately clear how many workers were affected. IBM officials were not immediately available for comment.

The Department of Labor recently reversed its long-standing position that IT workers were not eligible for TAA benefits because their employers were not importing physical goods that competed with domestically produced products.

But the DOL appeared to set a new precedent earlier this year when it ruled that programmers laid off from CSC in 2003 could apply for TAA benefits.

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