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October 3 , 2008

Rep. Velázquez Calls on U.S. Department of Labor to Help New York Preserve Jobs and Train Workers During Financial Crisis


Washington, DC – Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) today urged the U.S. Department of Labor to work with New York officials to devise a plan for maintaining employment and retraining workers displaced during the financial crisis. With as many as 120,000 workers expected to lose their jobs as a direct result of the Wall Street decline, she called on the Department to approve New York’s request for $150 million in federal grants for programs to bolster employment. She also called for a full review of existing federal programs designed to stem the tide of unemployment, including the Worker Investment Act (WIA) and Trade Adjustment Act (TAA).

Below is the text of a letter Congresswoman Velázquez, joined by eight of her colleagues in the House, sent to U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao:

October 3, 2008

Dear Madam Secretary:

New York is looking to the U.S. Department of Labor for leadership during these troubled economic times. Stagnant job growth and wages has combined with the dramatic market downturn to produce a dangerous time for New Yorkers, and thus for the entire country. The federal government has to do more right now to invest in New York’s most valuable resource, the American worker.

While globalization has created much opportunity for multinational corporations to penetrate new markets overseas and locate facilities offshore, these changes have also threatened the way of life of many New Yorkers. Whatever one might think of the trade policies that have gotten us here, we can all agree that worker skills must evolve to meet the demands of this increasingly international economy.

New York State is particularly focused on this problem in light of the financial mess which directly impacts many of our communities. We may lose 120,000 jobs as a result of the financial crisis alone. And our economy was struggling before the market crash. In August, unemployment in New York City increased more than it had in any one month in 30 years. Here’s what the Department must do to help:

  1. Approve New York’s request for federal assistance to preserve existing jobs and retrain displaced workers. The State is requesting a $10 million emergency grant for retraining, and a $50 million grant to go towards preserving existing jobs. The alternative – more hemorrhaging of jobs in the nation’s largest metropolitan area – would have severe national implications for our economy. Only the U.S. Department of Labor has the capacity to proactively prevent this. In the wake of the worst single day in the history of the New York Stock Exchange, we are clearly in an emergency. The Department cannot remain on the sidelines.
  2. Review the potential in federal programs such as the Worker Investment Act (WIA) and Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), to stem New York job losses. WIA and TAA were designed by Congress to empower the Department to both prevent foreseeable job problems, and react to such problems after the fact. Use WIA and TAA aggressively to spur the New York economy towards recovery.

Given the current financial and economic climate, New York runs the risk of suffering from a perfect storm of job contraction in the financial sector and the manufacturing sector in the coming months. The Department has the tools to help stem this storm. We urge you to act forcefully in this time of need and look forward to your response.

Sincerely yours,

Nydia M. Velázquez
Member of Congress

Maurice Hinchey
Member of Congress

Brian M. Higgins
Member of Congress

Carolyn McCarthy
Member of Congress

John Hall
Member of Congress

Jerrold Nadler
Member of Congress

Michael Arcuri
Member of Congress

Jose E. Serrano
Member of Congress

Yvette Clarke
Member of Congress


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