VAN BUREN, Maine — Employees of a local trucking company who were laid off last summer after a downturn in the pulp and paper industry are now eligible for federal assistance.
The U.S. Department of Labor said former workers at J.J. Bouchard Inc. are eligible to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance, according to a news release from Democratic U.S. 2nd District Rep. Mike Michaud.
An investigation conducted by the Labor Department concluded that about 20 workers lost their jobs at the Van Buren company as a result of other trade-related losses in the pulp and paper industry.
“The company experienced a steep fall off in business as the pulp and paper industry in northern Maine was hit very hard and had decreased sales,” Michaud said. “The granting of this assistance is good news for these workers, who will now be eligible to apply for assistance to help them get back on their feet.”
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. The assistance provides trade-affected workers with a variety of re-employment services and benefits to help them find new jobs and get back to work.
John Graham Jr., deputy chief of staff for Michaud in his Maine office, said Monday that he believes the company is still in business, though the trucking arm is no longer operating.
Company officials could not be reached for confirmation Monday. The company hauled loads for the pulp and paper industry.
Graham said that what happened at Bouchard is similar to what occurred at Little River Transport in St. David. Twelve employees at the St. David trucking company were made eligible for TAA last month.
The loss of business at Little River Transport was directly linked to the downturn in the domestic paper industry due to increased foreign imports that have flooded the U.S. market, according to Michaud.
“The companies hauled loads for the pulp and paper industry,” Graham said Monday. “But they went out of business because they did not have any loads to haul any more.”