Domtar, Maine Woods Co. workers gain aid access

By Sharon Kiley Mack, BDN Staff
Posted Sept. 18, 2009, at 1:30 a.m.

BAILEYVILLE, Maine — The U.S. Department of Labor has announced that workers at Maine Woods Co. in Portage Lake and Domtar in Baileyville are eligible to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance.

The assistance is an insurance policy of sorts that will allow workers laid off in the future to apply for aid, Scott Beal, a spokesman for Domtar, said Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud praised the action. “Our state has been hit hard by the recession and overseas competition. Losing a job can devastate families and affect whole communities. This assistance can’t replace a job, but it will provide workers with important skills assessments, training and job search help,” the 2nd District Democrat said.

U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins also were pleased by the announcement.

“This is extremely welcome news, which we hope will bring some sense of relief to these hardworking Mainers, who through no fault of their own, lost their jobs,” the Maine Republicans said in a joint statement.

Trade Adjustment Assistance is a Department of Labor program that helps workers who have lost their jobs as a result of increased imports or a shift of production outside of the U.S. It provides trade-affected workers with re-employment services and benefits.

“This means for us that should our facility incur downtime moving forward, all our employees affected would qualify for up to two years,” Beal said.

In May, Domtar was forced to lay off 275 employees, most of whom returned to work by June.

“There are no guarantees, of course, but we do not expect future layoffs,” Beal said. “We are working hard and making a quality product. … We are guardedly optimistic going forward. We are hoping that the economy continues to get its footing.”

Beal said Domtar appreciates all the help Maine’s congressional delegation provided in obtaining the assistance.

Maine Woods in Portage Lake is a 150-year-old sawmill and wood supply company that has seen increasing pressure from Canadian logging companies.

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http://bangordailynews.com/2009/09/18/business/domtar-maine-woods-co-workers-gain-aid-access/ printed on August 21, 2014