Intermet workers get benefits extension

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 6, 2000

Intermet-Ironton Iron workers who lost jobs when the plant shut down this winter will receive a financial boost beyond unemployment benefits.

Tuesday, June 06, 2000

Intermet-Ironton Iron workers who lost jobs when the plant shut down this winter will receive a financial boost beyond unemployment benefits.

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Employees who lost jobs on or after Jan. 19, 1999, will receive a 52-week extension of benefits while pursuing education and training, U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland said Monday.

The Department of Labor announced that federal Trade Adjustment Assistance can be given to workers because the Intermet shutdown came in part because of foreign competition, Strickland said.

In other words, because a policy enacted by Congress made it easier for a foreign business to compete with an American business, and because that American business – such as Ironton Iron – lost jobs, then assistance under Section 223 of the Trade Act of 1974 was warranted, he said.

"The Department of Labor agreed that there was a qualifying set of circumstances and workers were eligible," Strickland said.

"Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s going on in federal agencies and all you can do is keep checking and pushing," he said.

"I’m pleased they reached the right conclusion."

Specific benefits of Trade Adjustment Assistance include:

– Training for employment in another job or career. Workers may receive up to 104 weeks of approved training in occupational skills and basic or remedial education.

– Income support known as trade readjustment allowances (TRA) are weekly cash payments available for 52 weeks after a worker’s unemployment compensation benefit is exhausted and during the period in which a worker is participating in an approved full-time training program.

Workers qualify for the income support regardless of their financial condition, but they should apply through their local employment bureau to receive specific instructions, Strickland said.

The Department of Labor’s decision comes at a crucial time for workers most affected – those who were laid off at this year’s Intermet shutdown, he said.

"It helps relieve the crisis atmosphere so they can make good decisions," Strickland said. "I’ve been there and I know you can feel desperate when you’ve got responsibilities and there’s no reliable source of income."

To know that the bills can get paid while pursuing another job or another career is a tremendous boost, he said.

"I wish we would never have to have this type of program but once layoffs or plant closures occur, it’s good to have."