Laid off employees at the Old Town mill received more bad news this week, when they learned Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for those workers had been denied by the federal government.

The TAA program is a federal entitlement program that assists U.S. workers

who have lost or may lose their jobs as a result of foreign trade. The program seeks to provide adversely affected workers with opportunities to obtain the skills, credentials, resources, and support necessary to become reemployed. An increase in imported good or shifts in business ot other countries are often cited as reasons to make workers eligible for TAA.

Those stipulations certainly would have seemed to make Old Town Fuel and Fiel workers eligible for TAA; when the mill was closed on Aug. 13, officials there cited foreign competition, as well ans high energy costs and problems with its biomass boiler, as reasons for the closure. With days, state and union officials applied for TAA for the laid off workers.

But this week, that application was denied,

When Old Town Fuel & Fiberclosed its pulp mill in mid-August and laid off about 180 workers, the company blamed foreign competition and increasing wood and energy costs for the shutdown.

The state’s Department of Labor, Maine AFL-CIO and United Steelworkers Union for Maine applied for federal Trade Adjustment Assistance for the furloughed Old Town workers and learned late Wednesday that the application was denied, reasoning in part that foreign competition did not hurt the mill’s product – hardwood kraft pulp.

An appeal is anticipated, and members of Maine’s Congressional delegation vowed they would do what they can to help the displaced workers get TAA.

U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King released the following statement today in response to the announcement from the U.S.Department of Labor that Old Town Fuel and Fiber’s application for federal Trade Adjustment Assistance for the furloughed Old Town workers has been denied:

“The layoffs at the Old Town Mill were a blow to the workers and their families who were already squeezed tight in this tough economy, and this latest announcement from the Department of Labor is disappointing,” said Senators Susan Collins and Angus King in a press release. “We will continue to work to try to find federal resources to help the nearly 200 workers and their families looking for answers and fighting to maintain their way of life. And when Old Town appeals this devastating decision, we will support the process every step of the way.”


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