Just weeks after Nabisco closed its Fair Lawn facility, Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. introduced legislation that would aid factory workers who lost their jobs when corporations move facilities across national borders.
“The continued relocation of good jobs to Mexico and overseas by many in big business has rendered incalculable damage to the American worker,” said Rep. Pascrell, the former ranking member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade.
Pascrell on Sept. 8 introduced the Improved Access to Trade Adjustment Assistance Act, designed to make it easier for fired workers to obtain federal assistance for job training after their jobs were moved to another country.
The closure, which will affect 600 New Jerseyans’ employment, was finalized July 23. The bill was to be taken up by the Ways and Means Committee as part of the Biden Build Back Better budget reconciliation bill.
Helping Families Facing a Terrible Burden
Pascrell positioned the bill as a way to help fire workers “face terrible burdens” in being made whole, and said workers should not be allowed to suffer due to a technical failure.
“My bill will close this cruel loophole to make it easier for workers to access this important retraining program. I will continue to demand answers from corporations eliminating good paying union jobs here in the United States while creating low-wage jobs abroad to benefit their bottom line. I will push hard to see this bill enacted into law this year,” he said.
The loophole referenced allowed the Department of Labor to deny access for the Fair Lawn workers to the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program.
The new bill would make it easier for fired workers to access TAA by “a scheduled or imminently anticipated, long-term decrease in or reallocation of the production capacity of the firm” to the program’s eligibility requirements,” according to Pascrell.
A Vocal Critic of Mondelez
Pascrell was a critic of Mondelez International, the parent company of Nabisco. Pascrell led colleagues in demanding answers of the company in a letter sent April 27, and the effort mirrors other pro-labor movements he has undertaken.
“We seek further details concerning Mondelez’s policy of paying workers in Mexico low wages and how it may relate to the elimination of U.S. jobs. Reports that the company has been demanding cuts to wages and benefits in factories across the U.S. appear related to decisions to invest in and move operations to Mexico,” wrote Pascrell at the time.
Reps. Brendan Boyle and Dwight Evans of Pennsylvania as well as Illinois’ Rep. Bradley Schneider joined Pascrell in the endeavour.
Additionally, Pascrell fought for workers’ rights and the preservation of domestic jobs during the recent NAFTA renegotiations.