Island Falls workers eligible for help

Posted Jan. 20, 2010, at 8:17 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:35 a.m.

ISLAND FALLS, Maine — The 37 workers at National Starch and Chemical Co. who lost their jobs when the plant closed last June are now eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe announced Wednesday.

The Department of Labor also amended its initial TAA certification to include workers leased from Page Employment who worked at the Island Falls plant.

Trade Adjustment Assistance helps workers who have lost their jobs as a result of increased imports or a shift of production outside the U.S. TAA provides trade-affected workers with re-employment services and benefits to help them find new jobs.

Officials from the New Jersey-based company announced last June that the plant was closing as part of efforts to streamline the company’s continental manufacturing operations.

Ron McCrimmond, the company’s senior director of North America manufacturing, said the location and size of the factory meant Island Falls had higher logistical costs than National Starch’s larger facilities in North America.

The company, which made food-grade starch for processed foods, industrial products and processes such as papermaking, was the largest employer in the town of 790 people.

Under the federal TAA program, qualified employees can receive job search and relocation allowances, occupational training, education assistance and other services.

In a joint statement, Snowe and Collins called the eligibility “welcome news,” saying they hope it “will bring some sense of relief to all of the hardworking individuals at National Starch who, through no fault of their own, lost their jobs.”

A representative for Collins said Wednesday that affected employees now may apply to the Department of Labor for the available assistance.

For information go to www.doleta.gov/tradeact.

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