Rep. Andrews Touts Legislation that will Assist Workers Affected by International Trade; Extending Healthcare Coverage, Providing Advance Notice of Layoffs
I am proud to announce that the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation to help reduce the devastating impact of plant closures and mass layoffs on workers, their families and their communities. Today is a step toward victory for hard working Americans around the country. The American worker is undoubtedly the most valuable asset to the U.S. economy, and thus should be treated that way. However, as trade globalization continues sending more American jobs overseas, Congress must undertake the responsibility to provide adequate means for displaced workers to transition into new jobs. Therefore, I applaud Chairman Miller and my colleagues for standing up for the American worker and voting to pass the Trade and Globalization Assistance Act of 2007.
The Trade and Globalization Assistance Act of 2007 (H.R. 3920 includes legislation approved by the House Education and Labor Committee on October 18. The legislation makes improvements to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 to better help workers prepare for an impending job loss.
Specifically, H.R. 3920 improves the WARN Act by:
Providing workers with more advance notice of impending job losses. The bill would require employers to issue a notice of a mass layoff or plant closure 90 days in advance, up from 60 days under current law. It would also ensure that workers receive comprehensive information about benefits and services available to help them manage during their period of unemployment, such as job training and unemployment insurance.
Simplifying when an advance notice is required. Advance notice would be required if 50 or more employees, including part-time workers, at a single jobsite are laid off.
Strengthening penalties for businesses that fail to give employees proper notice. Under the legislation, if an employer fails to give advance notice, employees can recover double back pay and benefits for up to the 90 day period. The Department of Labor would also be allowed to receive, investigate and attempt to resolve complaints when employers fail to comply with the law. This bill also extends the time period that workers who lose their jobs because of trade can continue their group health insurance coverage (also known as COBRA coverage). These workers will now have the option to purchase COBRA coverage for up to 30 months. Under current law, workers generally cannot take advantage of this continuing coverage for more than 18 months. Also, for those workers who lose their jobs because of trade and are 55 and older or who have worked for the same employer for over 10 years can extend their COBRA coverage until they are Medicare eligible or become covered by another plan.