By: Susan Zebrak, TRA Coordinator, Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) employs a variety of strategies to get a valid worker list.

One way to gain a valid worker list is that DUA in partnership with Department of Career Services (DCS) is participating in the TAA Behavioral Intervention Study. The study is used to improve information provided and requested from an employer, give staff additional tools when reaching out to an employer and to help workers to learn about the many opportunities and services the Trade Program offers.

The study has helped MA DUA to revisit and update their initial employer notification letter by focusing on the many benefits the program has to offer their employees. DUA understands the profound effect that the globalization of jobs has had on the U.S. economy and the job market. American workers are facing increase competition for jobs that require higher skills. The trade program can provide the tools and training to transition workers into future demand occupations in commerce and industry.

When DOL certifies a trade petition, the Trade Readjustment Assistance (TRA) Unit within DUA acts quickly to reach out to the employer requesting their assistance in connecting with employees affected by layoffs due to the TAA petition that was filed. DUA informs the employer of how the program provides workers with opportunities to obtain new skills, credentials, resources, and support necessary for reemployment.

DUA will also request that the employer complete the worker spreadsheet, listing all workers who worked or are working for the group on or after the Impact Date of the Certification. The worker list will include all on-site and off-site workers, as well as staffing agencies.  Working with the employer not only ensures that all employees are captured on the worker spreadsheet, but it also develops a good working relationship for the continued success of the program.

Sometimes DUA will receive information that the company has merged, has been acquired by another company, has changed names, or is no longer in business. We will reach out to the contact person that DOL has provided on their notification to see if that individual can provide the worker list as well as the successor contact information.

If the contact no longer has access to the company records, DUA will reach out to the new owner to see if they can provide the worker list. If the new owner has an employee call center that handles their employment information, we will ask for a contact name, number, and email. We will contact that individual with a cc to the new owner requesting the worker list. We will work with the call center contact to ensure we receive the required employment information to render a determination for TAA services.

If the company contact does not have any information concerning the new owner, we will research the internet for the new owner’s contact information and we will also reach out to our Employer Registration & Liability Determinations and Business Acquisition Transfer Unit. They are the experts in the process of transferring employers and successors. We will work with the unit to see if a transfer has been processed on an account. If the employer has transferred to another company, we will reach out to that company contact. 

However, if the employer has not disclosed this information of a business transfer and we are not able to locate contact information on the new company using the internet, then the Worker’s Statement of Employment Form will be used. The Worker’s Statement of Employment Form has been used since 1975, and it is used when we cannot obtain employment information from the employer. The form is sent to the claimant when UI Online receives the individual’s application to participate in the Trade Program. The form captures the required employment information as it relates to the petition and is cross matched with UI records and individual paystubs. As context, UI Online has been programmed to display a message when an individual files a UI claim. The display message notifies the individual they have been identified as potentially eligible for the Trade Program based on their layoff.  The message will instruct the claimant to visit their local Career Center about their potential eligibility and inquire about the benefits of the program.  The message will provide a link to locate the nearest career center to get them connected to services.

These are the methods that DUA leverages to obtain a valid worker list and inform trade-affected workers of their potential benefits as soon as possible.