U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Employment and Training Administration
Washington, D. C. 20210

CLASSIFICATION

TAA

CORRESPONDENCE SYMBOL

TWT

ISSUE DATE

October 23, 1996

RESCISSIONS

None

EXPIRATION DATE

October 31, 1997

DIRECTIVE

:

GENERAL ADMINISTRATION LETTER NO. 07-94, Chg. 2

 

TO

:

ALL STATE EMPLOYMENT SECURITY AGENCIES

 

FROM

:

BARBARA ANN FARMER
Administrator
for Regional Management

 

SUBJECT

:

Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program Revised Applicant Processing Procedures

 

  1. Purpose. To amend operating instructions issued in GAL 7-94 that address applicant processing procedures for workers certified as eligible to apply for benefits under both subchapters A (the regular TAA program), and D (the North American Free Trade Agreement-Transitional Adjustment Assistance (NAFTA-TAA) program), of Chapter II, Title II of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended.

  2. References. The Trade Act of 1974, as amended; Title V of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (Pub. L. 103-182), 20 CFR Part 617; GAL 6-94; and GAL 7-94.

  3. Background. General Administration Letter (GAL) 7-94 contains operating instructions to State agencies for implementing the amendments to the Trade Act contained in the NAFTA Implementation Act. This Change 2 contains amended operating instructions to the State Agencies in regard to making individual eligibility determinations for Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA) benefits under the NAFTA-TAA program. These new instructions implement the United States District Court for the District of Columbia preliminary approval, pending a hearing for class members, of a settlement of Baker v. Reich between the Department of Labor and the United Auto Workers Union (UAW).

    Pursuant to the Court decision and order issued on June 11, 1996, the settlement approved on September 9, 1996 bars the use of the current NAFTA-TAA definition, as set forth in GAL 7-94, of "initial unemployment compensation benefit period" currently employed by State Agencies in determining applicants' eligibility for TRA benefits under the NAFTA-TAA program.

    In accordance with this settlement, this GAL also contains Employment and Training Administration (ETA) operating instructions for the States for providing relief for workers who were incorrectly denied, or who otherwise incorrectly did not receive, TRA benefits under the prior definition.

  4. Trade Readjustment Allowances-Previous Operating Instructions. GAL 7-94, page 13, contains instructions pertinent to the "Trade Readjustment Allowances" provision of the NAFTA Implementation Act. These instructions address TRA as follows:

  5. Trade Readjustment Allowances-Revised Operating Instructions. The instructions to the States pertaining to TRA are revised to read as follows:

  6. Retroactive Relief.In order to provide relief for all workers incorrectly denied TRA benefits, or who would not have qualified for benefits, under GAL 7-94, the States will implement the following actions:

    1. Each State NAFTA-TAA coordinator must compile a list of all workers who, since the inception of the NAFTA-TAA program, had qualifying separations from employment for NAFTA-related reasons and who were denied or otherwise did not receive TRA benefits under either the NAFTA-TAA program or the regular TAA program (i.e., dual certified) for the same qualifying separation. (The State need not include on the list anyone determined ineligible for TRA benefits under the NAFTA-TAA program for reasons other than the State's application of the original definition of "initial unemployment compensation benefit period".)

    2. State NAFTA-TAA coordinators must then notify, no later than November 22, 1996, all the workers on the list (at their last known address), that as a result of the U.S. District Court's action, they may now be eligible to receive TRA benefits under the NAFTA-TAA program if they enroll in TAA-approved training, or receive basic TRA if they have already completed training that is TAA approved.

    3. The notification sent to the workers must include the attached Court documents which include instructions for claimants to contact their local Employment Service office by April 15, 1997, for a determination or redetermination of their individual eligibility for training assistance and TRA benefits under the NAFTA-TAA program. Upon request, the worker notifications, including the Court documents, must be supplied to a claimant in Spanish or other languages.

    4. States must also inform affected local labor unions and State and local central labor bodies of the settlement and of their members' rights to pursue a claim for TRA benefits.

    5. Finally, the States must publish, in the same manner as notices of Certification under the NAFTA-TAA program are published, the attached (or similar) press notice about the settlement in newspapers of general circulation. In order to inform as many eligible workers as possible of the right to receive a determination or redetermination of individual eligibility for training and TRA under the NAFTA-TAA program, States must also make this information available to television and post it on the Internet (where available).

  7. Eligibility Determinations and Redeterminations. In order to provide retroactive relief under the settlement, States must provide eligibility determinations or redeterminations to workers who were previously denied, or who would not have qualified for, TRA benefits under the NAFTA-TAA program based upon the prior definition of "initial unemployment compensation benefit period". An individual need not have previously filed a claim to be eligible for retroactive relief under this settlement. Workers determined eligible for TRA benefits under the terms of the settlement must be advised that they have 16 weeks, from the date the eligibility determination or redetermination was made by the State, to enroll in a TAA-approved training program, if they have not previously completed one. (In the event that appropriate training is not scheduled to begin within 30 days of the expiration of the 16-week period, a claimant will be permitted to take advantage of the 30-day extension period provided in Section 250(d)(3)(B) of the Trade Act.) Under the settlement, the States' calculation of the 104-week training period in 20 CFR 617.22(f)(2) begins with the worker's first day of training and the 104-week eligibility period for TRA begins with the first week following the week that the eligibility determination or redetermination for TRA was made.

    The 210-day rule under 19 U.S.C. 2293(b) is not applicable to individuals seeking retroactive relief under this settlement. A worker may receive basic and additional TRA benefits only during periods of participation in a TAA-approved training program or may continue to receive only basic TRA after completion of a TAA-approved training program.

    Retroactive relief is intended to cover all individuals affected between the time the NAFTA-TAA program was implemented and the time the settlement was approved by the Court on September 9, 1996.

  8. Reporting Required.The Department is required to report to the UAW on the States' implementation of the settlement. ETA is seeking expedited clearance for this requirement under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. To assist this effort, States must provide the following information to the Department as directed:

    1. States must provide to the Office of Trade Adjustment Assistance, by December 31, 1996, either by phone, electronic mail, or in writing, a summary of the number of workers notified of the proposed settlement and the number of workers who have contacted the State agency for eligibility determinations.

    2. Beginning with the quarterly reporting period ending December 31, 1996, the States will provide the National Office with quarterly written reports on: the number of people requesting determination or redetermination of entitlement; the number of people determined entitled to relief; and the number of people receiving TRA first payments under this settlement. ETA Form 563 should be used for this purpose.

    3. The States are required to continue to report the data described in paragraph b above on a quarterly basis for five additional quarters.

  9. Funding. In order to support the States' efforts to comply with the terms of this settlement, the Department will allow the States to request and/or access funds from the following sources:

    1. States may use or apply unspent or surplus NAFTA-TAA administration funds to cover the costs of notifying, processing and making referral to training for potentially affected workers.

    2. States should report redeterminations on line 5, section C of the UI-3 report. The MPU value is the same as the allocated initial claims MPU.

    3. States may, using the ETA form 9023, request special NAFTA-TAA administration funds to pay the costs of upgrading or enhancing their NAFTA-TAA MIS reporting capability systems, including improving the UI interface in order to help contact workers within the stipulated timeframes or to help track and report on benefits and services provided to workers determined eligible for relief.

    4. Additional NAFTA-TAA program funds will also be made available to the States through the usual ETA 9023 request form to help States provide NAFTA-TAA training to workers determined eligible for retroactive relief.

  10. Action Required.

    1. States are required to implement the revised instructions for making individual eligibility determinations for TRA benefits under the NAFTA-TAA program as set forth in these operating instructions and the settlement agreement.

    2. States must provide retroactive relief under the settlement to workers who were previously denied, or who would not have qualified for, TRA benefits under the NAFTA-TAA program through the States' use of the previous interpretation of "initial unemployment compensation benefit period" prohibited by the settlement and the Court's decision and order.

    3. States should inform all appropriate State staff of the contents of this document and ensure that staff have the necessary resources available to comply with the settlement.

  11. Inquiries.States should direct all inquiries to the appropriate ETA Regional Office.

  12. Attachment.Draft NAFTA News Release

     

     

     

    Draft NAFTA News Release

     

    Prenote to States: When you issue this release, make sure all references to the "employment service" conform to the name of the responsible agency in your state.

    Benefits Extended to More Workers

    U.S. LABOR DEPARTMENT, UNION REACH AGREEMENT

    ON BROADER DEFINITION OF NAFTA ELIGIBILITY

    The U.S. Department of Labor and the United Autoworkers Union recently reached agreement on the conditions under which workers may receive benefits under the North American Free Trade Agreement Transitional Adjustment Assistance (NAFTA-TAA) program. The new, broader definition means that more workers will be eligible for income-support payments while they train for new jobs.

    The settlement provides that a worker separated from employment for reasons related to trade with Mexico or Canada, or a shift of production to Mexico or Canada, may now be eligible to receive income-support benefits, known as Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA), if the worker has been certified by the Labor Department and is participating in an approved training program within 16 weeks of the worker's most recent qualifying separation (layoff).

    The issue was resolved September 9, 1996, when the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued preliminary approval, pending a fairness hearing for class members, of a settlement of Baker v. Reich, a case brought by the United Autoworkers Union against the Department of Labor, concerning the definition of eligibility.

    The settlement applies to individuals who had been certified for NAFTA-TAA but who were denied TRA benefits because they did not meet an earlier definition of eligibility, which was rejected by the court in June.

    State Employment Security Agencies have begun to notify workers certified for NAFTA-TAA that, as a result of the court's action, they may now be eligible to receive TRA benefits if they enroll in vocational training or have completed appropriate training.

    Workers who have been certified for NAFTA-TAA have until April 15, 1997, to contact their local Employment Service office for a redetermination of their eligibility for assistance. If a worker is determined to be eligible for benefits under NAFTA, the worker may then receive TRA benefits if he or she is participating in, or has completed, a TAA-approved training program. A worker may have up to 104 weeks from the date of redetermination to collect up to 52 weeks of TRA benefits.

    Employment Service offices are listed in the blue pages of the telephone directory under state government. Depending on the state, these offices may also be called the "Job Service" or the "Employment Security Commission."