Utah discusses the importance and impact of collaboration among the different programs and partners in the workforce investment system in serving trade-affected workers. 

by Utah

There are many layoffs that meet Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) certification guidelines, but for various reasons the employer, a group of workers, or the State Workforce Agency may not file a petition. In Utah we have been focusing on filing more petitions to increase TAA participants. One of our strategies is collaborating more within the Department of Workforce Services, including our Unemployment Insurance and Rapid Response teams, so even if a company is not responsive to requests for information, we can still compile the required information. Then we can file a petition on behalf of the laid off workers.

Recently we had an experience highlighting how important collaboration is for filing Trade petitions. The Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA) coordinator, who has access to Unemployment Insurance information, noticed that there were a significant number of layoffs from one company. She knew that Utah had a petition certified for this company a few years prior and she thought that the new layoffs could be Trade impacted too. The TRA coordinator sent the company name to the TAA coordinator to look into the situation and see if the layoff would possibly meet the Trade Petition Guidelines. The TAA coordinator attempted to contact the company multiple times in different ways, but was unable to get anyone at the company to respond and provide information.

The TAA coordinator then talked with the Rapid Response coordinator to see if he had any information on the company. The Rapid Response coordinator had limited information on the company, but knew several individuals he could contact to try to get information about the layoffs. During this time, the TRA coordinator also contacted her resources that were familiar with the company. When the three coordinators shared the information they had gathered, the compilation had everything the TAA coordinator needed to comfortably file a petition, even though the company was unresponsive.

After the Department of Labor completed their investigation, the petition was certified and over 700 impacted workers are now eligible for TAA Services. This example highlights how there is no substitute for collaborating and reaching out to people who may have different resources than you. No person or organization has all the answers. We have found that working together helps us get the best outcome for everyone.