Casey Pushes for Trade Adjustment Assistance Act (TAA) Grant for Westmoreland County Community College

Grant Will Help Workers Retrain for Jobs in the Growing Marcellus Shale Industry

Casey Led the Fight for Passage of the TAA Program to Help PA Workers Who have Lost Their Jobs Due to Unfair Practices by Countries like China

YOUNGWOOD, PA – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today visited Westmoreland County Community College (WCCC) to push the U.S. Department of Labor to approve a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant for the college.

The grant would come from the TAA program, which benefits workers whose jobs have been shipped overseas by unfair trade practices, and allow WCCC to help Western Pennsylvania workers retrain for jobs in the growing Marcellus shale industry. 

“Pennsylvanians that have lost their jobs due to unfair foreign trade should have the tools they need to find jobs in the natural gas industry, one of the fastest growing job creating industries in Pennsylvania,” said Senator Casey. “I led the fight for this legislation and now I’m supporting WCCC’s grant application so that workers in the region can tap into the good paying jobs that continue to increase in this part of Pennsylvania.”

WCCC is leading a consortium known as ShaleNET in applying for the grant to develop curriculum to train workers in areas such as electronics, process control, fluid power, mechanical and automation systems. To address advanced skill requirements, an innovative strategy will be used to integrate new online curriculum into an instructional environment by designing, testing, and deploying online software that has the ability to digitally control specific pieces of equipment commonly used in the industry.

In addition to training workers for jobs in gas fields, that grant would help local workers meet the demand for manufacturing and process technicians to work in facilities that make natural gas and its components usable in a wide variety of industries.

TAA was created in 1962 as a way to help workers and firms negatively impacted by trade.  TAA was most recently expanded to include additional workers, expanded job training and improved health care coverage.  When the expansion expired, Senator Casey played a key role in reauthorizing the program. Specifically, he pushed an amendment that:

  • Guaranteed access to training for American service and manufacturing workers;
  • Allowed workers to qualify if their firms shifted production to any country, including China and India, not just counties with which the U.S. has entered into a free trade agreement; and
  • Ensured that workers in industries suffering from unfair trade and import surges as a result of unfair subsidies, dumping of goods, and unexpected surges to automatically qualify to receive TAA benefits if their layoffs occurred within one year before or after an affirmative injury determination by the International Trade Commission.

In 2010, Senator Casey helped secure a $4.9 million grant for WCCC to create a recruitment, training, placement and retention program for occupations in the natural gas industry. As the Marcellus Shale continues to grow as a jobs resource for the state, Senator Casey is pushing for a TAA grant that will allow the program to expand. With the economy’s recovery still fragile, ensuring that Pennsylvanians can take advantage of the natural gas industry is essential. Natural gas remains a large part of the country’s energy future- making sure Pennsylvanians have a large role in this industry will boost working class families.