Officials Seek Help For Luke Mill Workers | Cumberland Times-News
CUMBERLAND — Several elected officials in Maryland and West Virginia have requested federal assistance for workers who will be displaced when the Verso Corp.'s Luke paper mill closes.
Verso announced April 30 the mill would close completely by June 30, a move that will impact nearly 700 on-site workers.
The program, known as Trade Adjustment Assistance, offers financial help, training and benefits to workers who are displaced due to foreign trade. The paper industry has faced steady pressure from overseas paper mills that produce a cheaper imported product.
Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Vs.), Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Rep. David Trone (D-Md.) and Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), each signed a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor requesting the benefits be made available.
“We ask that you give the TAA application for the workers at the Verso paper mill in Luke, Maryland, your utmost and expeditious consideration," the letter states. "The community is facing an incredible challenge, and access to these resources will be essential in charting the path forward.”
The request is currently under consideration by federal officials. If approved, benefits under the TAA include a wage subsidy for up to two years that is available to reemployed older workers and covers a portion of the difference between a worker’s new wage and their old wage (up to a specified maximum amount).
The assistance also includes case management, skill assessments, apprenticeships and pay toward travel outside a worker's commuting area.
In addition, the program offers income support available in the form of weekly cash payments to workers who are enrolled in a full-time training course and have exhausted their unemployment insurance.
Details on benefits available under TAA can be found at https://www.doleta.gov/tradeact/.
To be eligible for TAA benefits, individual soon-to-be-displaced mill workers must file a petition through the U.S. Department of Labor. They can receive assistance with the process at their local American Job Center (sometimes referred to as One-Stop Job Centers), located at 138 Baltimore St., Cumberland. Soon-to-be-displaced workers may visit the center or phone 301-777-1221 for more information.
By: Greg Larry
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