(Washington, D.C.) - Income support and job training will now be available to workers laid off from the Gorham Paper Mill thanks to the U.S. Department of Labor's approval of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), announced U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen. The approval comes following a letter sent by Shaheen to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis in October urging the Department to assist the workers.
"The Department of Labor's decision to provide trade adjustment assistance to out-of-work Gorham Mill workers is important news for the employees and their families, and for the North Country as a whole," said Shaheen. "During these challenging times, the financial aid and job training offered under this package will be a welcome help to those employees still seeking work. We will continue to work to help rebuild the North Country economy, and provide support for the mill and its employees."
"The United Steel Workers, Local 75 is relieved and excited at the same time at the news of our Trade Act application being approved. The closure of the mill, with the lack of other job opportunities in Northern New Hampshire, makes the Trade Act benefits extremely important to the people laid off from the mill," said Eddy DeBlois, recording secretary of United Steel Workers Local 75.
Senator Shaheen on October 21 sent a letter to Secretary Solis, in which she urged the Labor Department to accept and certify the mill employees' TAA petition. In September, Shaheen helped secure federal funding to build a gas pipeline from the Mt. Carberry landfill to the mill. The pipeline will supply the mill with a clean, affordable fuel supply that will significantly reduce operating costs, increase productivity, and retain and create jobs.
On Thursday, Counsel R.B. Capital purchased the mill, which has stood abandoned since October 13. Owner Fraser Papers filed for bankruptcy on June 18, 2009, and two previous agreements to sell the mill fell through. The mill, which employed about 240 workers, was the North Country's largest industrial employer and the region's last paper mill following the closure of three others within the past decade.
The TAA program offers a Trade Readjustment Allowance, various types of vocational and educational training, a health coverage tax credit, and other benefits to workers who become unemployed due to the impact of international trade.