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language of your legislation, the proposed legislation. My question is on whom are you placing the burden of showing that he was or was not aware?
It seems to me you are creating a very dangerous precedent here with the whole business of requiring the Government, if it is the Government's fault, to prove that the man was aware, if that is the route you are going. I don't know what route you are going.
Mr. MYERS. The wording in my bill simply states, page 2: The Secretary finds that the filing of such petition was delayed because the petitioner through no fault of his own did not receive timely notice of the requirements of the subchapter.
So, it is at the discretion of the Secretary. It would certainly require that the burden of proof would be on those who file, to convince the Secretary. I would not support a provision where, those petitioning did not have a reasonably good argument as to why they had not filed.
What we have here is a new act that went into effect, and I think that we have to recognize that some organizations have more direct lines of communication with our actions than others. Some are represented by national organizations of one sort or another who have lobbyists and people who are totally familiar with what is going on here on a day-to-day basis. There are some workers who are affected by the Trade Act who are not represented by a national group through which the communications about the bill such as this would get through to them. na mos
I think this is what has occurred in some of these cases.
Mr. PIKE. All I wanted to do was make clear that you are leaving the burden on the worker?
Mr. MYERS. Yes; I definitely believe that they should prove to the Secretary-and he certainly would have the latitude to make a judgment whether, in fact, they had a reasonably good excuse for not filing.
Mr. FRENZEL. Would the gentleman yield? 3127 ?
Mr. FRENZEL. This point was raised last year during our hearings on this bill. I was just looking at some of last year's hearings in which the chairman was discussing the problem with Allen Wolfe, the then General Counsel. Mr. Wolfe was saying that he thought for most of the groups that were complaining, there was adequate knowledge. Now, you could maybe find a group tucked away somewhere that wasn't well represented, who had a good excuse for not knowing about it. Yet all the ones who came to us were groups that were pretty well represented both regionally and nationally and groups that perhaps even took part in the building of the Trade Act when it was passed. I rodes and
I don't think there has been a good showing that there has been a good reason, Gary, for not filing in a timely manner. It is hard to prove ignorance. Would you comment on that?
Mr. MYERS. Yes; I definitely could comment on it. I think most of us are aware that, if we were burdened with the responsibility of fully evaluating every law and regulation which comes out, which
could impact our daily lives, it is a big burden, and that the argument that, because one group has sufficient resources to do that on a continual basis, certainly does not indicate there are not some portions of our community that cannot.
I would argue that it should be a case-by-case basis, that they would have to come to the Secretary with sufficient proof that their line of communications were not set up in such a way that they could have avoided the late filing. If today we passed a new act of some sort that impacted them, they probably would need a longer time for the requirements to get through to them.
It is my understanding that the Department of Labor had no outreach on this, so that they assumed there was going to be a process of osmosis where the information would get back to those affected by it, and I think in some cases, it just has a more difficult path to get through.
I would leave it totally on the discretion of the Secretary, and then I would expect him to require substantial proof. It should not be so casual as just a request. I would not support that type of a provision.
At the minimum, I would suggest that the committee request of the Secretary that he advise them as to whether or not there have been any convincing arguments or he sees any convincing arguments on this point that could legitimately be considered in such cases.
Mr. FRENZEL. I thank you for your comments. I cannot help thinking that a lot of these groups who are asking for retroactivity are groups that have engaged in other actions under the Trade Act and ignored this form of relief
Mr. GIBBONS. That is what I was going to ask.
Mr. FRENZEL. Running around, asking for tariffs and quotas. Yet these same groups apparently were not quite so concerned about their employees.
Mr. MYERS. Let me be a little more explicit. If, in fact, an international union, or a national union, represents a group, I would think that their lines of communication are rather direct. If, in fact, you have individuals who are not represented by a union or have their own independent union without the ties at the national level, they are going to have a much more difficult time learning of programs.
I think there is a clear example in almost every program that there are people who would qualify for benefits but have never understood them, or in a timely fashion have not become acquainted with them.
That is all I am arguing for.
Mr. GIBBONS. I think let me make an observation here, and perhaps you can shed light on what I am about to observe. As you recall, when we passed this bill, its principal opponent was the BurkeHartke bill, which was only about 100 percent worse than SmootHawley, but, other than that, it was a very fair and reasonable bill. Organized labor by and large supported the Burke-Hartke bill and said all kinds of things about the bill that finally passed.
Then I think we sort of universally depended upon them to pass the word to their members that this was available to them. I am
afraid that we didn't realize that perhaps the self-interest of a union was not only to protect its workers, but also perhaps to protect.its membership, and that maybe they weren't too interested in seeing that adjustment assistance really work, because perhaps a union member might end up in another job. We didn't have the kind of outreach program that would really help the worker, because there was no incentive on the part of the union to really push adjustment assistance because of the things that I have outlined here. So, I think that is one reason why we haven’t done as well as we thought we would. Did you run into any of that? Maybe I have oversimplified it or made it a little too strong. Would you describe what seems to bear out my worst fears about this. Mr. Myers. I would say that probably—I don't know of any cases where workers who come under the umbrella of an international union have had this problem. The problem is that there are substantial numbers of individuals who either belong to no union or have an independent union. I would say that perhaps this is where it breaks down. Once the union and the independent unions were aware of the bill, they in very rapid fashion inquired about it and roceeded along with their filings, so I don’t think that the unions ignored the benefits that this had for their workers. Mr. GIBBons. Good. I am glad to hear that. Mr. MYERs. I think the outreach program, or the information pattern in well structured organizations probably flowed very well. What we have got to keep in mind is the substantial numbers of people—and I would point to the fact that perhaps, if we passed a bill today which affected farmers who are not—and every farmer could benefit from it—those farmers who belong to co-ops or who have a membership in an organization such as a co-op, would probably be more constantly aware and fully aware of what benefits are available to them. Those who are sort of on their own, they work on a day-to-day basis, perhaps it may be years before they would finally realize what the Federal Government has to offer them in a certain area. This is a comparison. I really think that people who represent fellow workers are certainly willing to comply with the law to assist them in qualifying for the work. Mr. Gibbons. Well, I have found that in dealing with local members of the union, they have a great deal of fellowship amongst themselves and they really go out and work for each other to try to protect their own rights. I am just worried that we probably put an unconscionable burden upon the unions to advertise something that they really were against. That is what worried me. I am glad to hear you say you did not find any of that kind of activity. Mr. Myers. I found no evidence that a union that was aware that their membership could have benefits from this trade adjustment ignored that. Mr. Gibbons. Well, thank you. Mr. Archer?
Mr. ARCHER. Mr. Myers, I appreciate your testimony, which I think is very thoughtful and well presented to the committee. I had one question I wanted to ask you about your bill.
As drafted, your bill seems to grant this extended period only to those workers that have already been given certification in the period from October 3, 1974, through April 3, 1975. Is it your intention not to grant the expanded period to workers displaced during the same period that did not secure certification?
Mr. MYERS. If they have received certification to the point that they were qualified for the benefits, except that they did not file in a timely fashion, it would be my intent in the legislation that they would qualify. If they were to qualify for every reason except on a timely fashion of filing, then I would anticipate that.
If, in fact, the certification was rejected because it was determined that they were not harmed, then certainly this should not change that decision.
Mr. ARCHER. Thank you very much.
Mr. GIBBONS. Our next witness is Congressman Ralph S. Regula of Ohio
STATEMENT OF HON. RALPH S. REGULA, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF OHIO
Mr. REGULA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to be here. I won't take time to read the statement.
I have been listening to the prior witnesses. I think they covered the subject adequately. Essentially, the thrust of the bill I introduced and my testimony is to achieve equity, for those who, for many reasons, did not have an awareness and were therefore not covered by petitions filed at the proper time.
In Ohio's 16th District, many times older workers were among the first to be laid off and yet they have not received benefits that younger workers who might have been laid off at a later time have received, because the less senior workers were covered by the petition that was filed. All we are attempting to do here is to achieve equity for all that were impacted in the same fashion by imports.
Mr. GIBBONS. Good.
Mr. REGULA. I thank the committee. The last time I was here was on the sick pay exclusion, and I notice that the committee did approve that. I think this was a correct move. Here again it is the same desire to achieve equity for the people involved.
Mr. GIBBONS. We try to be responsive.
[The prepared statement follows:] STATEMENT OF Hon. RALPH REGULA, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS From
THE STATE OF OHIO Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before the Trade Subcommittee this morning. I am here to lend my support toward the passage of legislation which will rectify a significant inequity which has resulted
of assuring that benefits Workers to the labor force. I support the concept
from a provision of the Trade Reform Act of 1974. The Subcommittee is to be commended for its interest in correcting this problem with the law.
The 16th District of Ohio contains industrial plants which manufacture a substantial portion of the specialty steel produced within the United States. Heavy foreign imports of these products caused the International Trade Commission to recommend government action to shield the domestic specialty steel industry from unfair international competition. Ths industry was among the first to take advantage of the 1974 Trade Act. Because of this situation, I am very much aware of the problems that have arisen as we have gained experience with this new law.
The Trade Act of 1974 limits payment of a Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA) to workers laid off from a firm due to imports when those layoffs occurred within one year prior to the date of their petition for certification by the Department of Labor. Further, payments may not be made for any period prior to October 3, 1974.
The one year rule' has caused unequal treatment of workers who are laid off from their jobs because of foreign imports. The arbitrary one year cut-off by Section 2273 (b) (1) has led to different eligibility treatment among workers in the same industry and often even among those in the same plant.. Some of the workers who have been victims of unfair trade competition have borne the full impact of being laid off because of imports with no help under this program. Others, who were fortunate enough to be laid off within one year prior to the date of their petition for certification have been entitled to Trade Readjustment Assistance, training and the full benefits of the Act. It is difficult indeed for a person to understand why he is denied help under this government program just because he was laid off from work two weeks before and often two weeks longer than his co-worker who is eligible for benefits.
As an example to help explain what I am saying, let me describe for you: what has happened at Republic Steel's plant number sixty at Massillon, Ohio.
Beginning in November, 1974, Republic Steel began laying off workers it appears as a result of increased steel imports. By March 1, 1975 approximately two hundred and fifty workers had been laid off. The petition for Labor Department TRA certification was submitted March 9, 1976. By applying the one year rule' these employees were excluded from receiving TRA bnefits. Republic employees laid off after March 9, 1975 were qualified for benefits.
One reason the 'one year rule' has been a problem is the delay in distributing information about the Trade Readjustment Allowance program to potentially eligible workers. The Trade Act of 1974 became effective January 3, 1975. It was substantially later than that before information about the program began to filter down to those workers who needed it.
The original rationale for the one year limit was to encourage prompt filing of petitions to assure that benefits and training were delivered promptly to achieve a rapid
are received when they are needed and can be productive. But, I believe that the one year limitation of Section 2273 does not provide adequate leeway for the time necessary to begin a program of this type. Further, I believe that we cannot turn our backs on the equities among workers involved here.
The bills before the Subcommittee today all extend the time limit built into Section 2273 (b) (1). They do not create an open-ended retroactive eligibility, but merely extend the duration of the limit.
I support a substitution of a two year time limit for the one year limitation in the current law. This change should be applied retroactively to eliminate the inequity that has resulted from the 'one year rule'. I urge that the Subcommittee act favorably on such a bill.
Mr. GIBBONS. Our next witness is Mr. Richard Rombkowski who is shop steward from the United Automobile Aerospace, Agricultural Implement Workers of America. He is with Spicer Unit of Toledo, Ohio.
Welcome, sir. Your full statement that you have in your hand will be made a part of the record.
You may proceed as you wish.