Former shoe workers eligible for training thanks to Recovery Act

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The U.S. Department of Labor announced Tuesday that former workers at Allen Edmonds Shoe Corp. in Lewiston are now eligible to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance made possible through the Recovery Act.

An investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor concluded that workers lost their jobs as a direct result of the company increasing its importation of men’s business and casual shoes, which led to sales and production declines at the Lewiston location.

As of last October, the company reported employing between 70 and 100 local residents. In a phone interview this past February, Allen Edmonds President and CEO Paul Grangaard told the Sun Journal that his company decided to get out of the business of making shoes for other companies and had to reduce staff in Maine. He declined to elaborate on specific figures but said the company had a layoff in November.

Rep. Michael Michaud, D-Maine, praised the effort to help displaced workers while calling to task U.S. trade policies.

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“These benefits will provide workers with important skills assessments, training and job search assistance. The number of TAA applications filed and the frequency of their approvals demonstrate just how tough this economy and our trade policies have been on companies in Maine,” Michaud said in a news release issued Monday night. “The granting of assistance is positive news for these workers, but it reinforces the need for our country to promote trade policies that benefit workers and businesses operating here.”

TAA is a Department of Labor program that helps workers who lost their jobs as a result of increased imports or a shift of production outside of the United States. TAA provides trade-affected workers with a variety of re-employment services and benefits to help them find new jobs and get back to work.

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