By Jennifer Detling, TAA Petition Coordinator, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment

I was hired as the TAA Petition Coordinator for Colorado in January 2021. One of the things that drew me to the role was the state’s desire to expand and grow their TAA program to serve more participants through the benefits it provides. As I began settling into the role, I engaged in conversations with our state TAA/TRA Coordinator and USDOL about successful strategies used by various states that were resulting in a high number of petitions certified. We discussed the possibility of creating a platform where states could come together, share tips, and support each other during the first step in the process of program eligibility, in this case TAA petition certification. Thus, the National TAA Petition Workgroup was born.

When I reached out to the TAA state program representatives to gauge interest, many were enthusiastic and wanted to join. Forty-four states expressed interest in the group and in the two monthly meetings we have held so far, we have had 50-70 attendees!

The National TAA Petition Workgroup is a space where representatives from across the US can share resources, lessons learned, and best practices with one another. We discuss a wide range of topics related to TAA petition filing including what challenges we encounter, how to identify potentially eligible worker groups, how to research and file TAA petitions, how to perform outreach to workers of certified companies, and more. We also spend time sharing information regarding industries and companies that may have a multi-state impact.

During the first meeting, states shared what their TAA programs currently look like, and how they partner with their Rapid Response teams to identify worker groups. It came to light that many people were interested in learning more about the Trade Act Navigator model that some states have already implemented. Les Williams, Oregon’s Lead Trade Act Navigator, joined our second meeting and explained how her state received approval for and set up the model they have implemented today and what a day in the life of a navigator looks like.

Upcoming topics of interest for the group include how to use research tactics using various websites to collect supporting data and documentation for petitions, how to investigate upstream and downstream suppliers, and effective strategies for obtaining worker lists. Discussions have also led to ideas for more formal training that may be hosted by USDOL down the road to further complement knowledge sharing within the state-led group.

The National TAA Petition Workgroup has opened the opportunity to network, expand communication and collaboration between states, and share resources. It’s exciting to be a part of a group that brings together TAA advocates that are passionate about their work and about making positive differences in the lives of others. By harnessing the skills and expertise of TAA staff nationwide, we all benefit. I can’t wait to see what ideas, partnerships and growth opportunities stem from this group moving forward!