Sitting between U.S. Congressman Mike Michaud and two seniors who spent January in Maine researching the impact of federal programs that assist workers displaced by globalization, labor economist Howard Rosen put the value of the students’ work in perspective.
The four were participating in Helping Those Hurt By Globalization: A Panel on Trade Adjustment Assistance, in Ostrove Auditorium with Dean of Faculty Lori Kletzer, a labor economist, moderating.
Michaud, a Democrat representing Maine’s second district, said he was outraged that earlier in February Republican House Speaker John Boehner had effectively killed the Trade Adjustment Assistance program by taking it off the House agenda. That program has helped manufacturing and service-sector workers get various benefits, including vocational retraining, when their jobs are lost to foreign competition, Michaud said.
The students, Caitlyn Fleming ’11 and Ann Norris ’11, presented research done under the auspices of Rosen’s D.C.-based Trade Assistance Coalition that showed widespread enthusiasm for the program from state officials, educators, and from workers who received benefits, education, and “emotional stability … hope for the future, and optimism that they would be able to find new jobs.”
“Overall we were struck by the positive remarks that we heard and the efficacy of the program in Maine,” Norris said.
In his final remarks Rosen, executive director of the Trade Assistance Coalition, said one of the biggest problems he faces advocating for such programs is lack of solid data. It’s hard to make good public policy with poor information, he said.
“That,” he said, “is where Cait and Ann came in. Seriously. Because what we do at this nonprofit that I run, because we’re so frustrated that we don’t have good statistics, national statistics, we go out and interview people whenever we can.”
Rosen said the students’ work provides critical information for members of Congress who have the final say on programs for those put out of work by foreign competition. Inevitably, he said, someone in Congress will “get up and say, ‘These training programs are a bunch of wastes of money.’
“The Congressman,” he continued, gesturing toward Michaud, “is going to get up, and he’s going to have this research at his fingertips that’s going to say, ‘This is what they trained for, this is what they said, this is the kind of jobs they got. What are you talking about? You show me your proof.’
“This is our proof.”
Hear the Goldfarb Center podcast of the entire program
Read a Feb. 23 Morning Sentinel story on the presentation
InsideColby podcast interviews student researchers