Lawmaker Wants Aid For Workers Idled By Offshore Outsourcing - InformationWeek

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Lawmaker Wants Aid For Workers Idled By Offshore Outsourcing

A Washington state congressman plans a bill to provide government-funded job training and cash to tech workers who lose their jobs due to offshore outsourcing.

A Washington state congressman said Tuesday he will propose a bill to provide government-funded job training and cash assistance to tech workers who lose their jobs due to offshore outsourcing.

Congressman Adam Smith, D-Wash., plans to propose an expansion to the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which was developed about 40 years ago to assist U.S. manufacturing workers who had lost their jobs due to global trade expansion. Smith decided to draft the proposal after learning that technology workers who lost their jobs due to similar circumstances had applied for assistance but were denied by the U.S. Labor Department, which oversees the program. "If people are out of work, we ought to have job training available to them," Smith says.

Smith, whose district includes the tech-heavy Seattle area, has taken up the cause of IT workers before. He recently convinced the General Accounting Office to study what impact offshore outsourcing is having on the United States.

With this proposal, Smith says his goal is get the government to recognize the plight of technology workers, who until just a few years ago had no problems finding jobs. "Well into the '90s, no one felt the tech workers needed lobbyists," Smith says. "That's been changing for three years."

The federal program provides laid-off workers with vouchers to pay for job-training classes for up to two years, and with weekly cash payments that average $200 once regular unemployment compensation expires. In drafting the bill, Congressman Smith's office will consider how to define what types of job duties fall under the technology-worker category and will look into potential funding sources to support expansion of the program.

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