Factory workers give courses mixed reviews
Over the strong objections of the labor movement, presidential fast track powers on trade agreements and other free trade legislation was passed earlier this year due largely to promises of increased funding to job training programs for those who lose their jobs to trade related layoffs (see WIT?s for May 24, and May 17, 2002). Despite increases in the number of eligible workers and the amount of benefits provided, critics continue to raise serious questions about the efficacy of these programs, citing government statistics showing that in 2000 such programs failed to meet their goal of maintaining eighty percent of eligible workers? pre-layoff wages in almost fifty percent of cases. Among the other problems they point to, is the fact that the thirty-day window to choose a new career path to train for in such programs is hardly sufficient for mainly middle-age and older workers who are often facing unemployment and a career change for the first time.