Federal aid approved for laid-off Bucksport mill workers

Posted Jan. 13, 2012, at 5:38 p.m.

BUCKSPORT, Maine — Former workers at Verso’s mill who were laid off in October now are eligible to receive job training and other assistance through a federal program.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Friday that laid-off Verso workers can participate in the Trade Adjustment Assistance program that was created to help workers who lost their jobs in part because of foreign trade or increased global competition.

Verso announced in October that the company was shutting down one papermaking machine and eliminating 125 positions at the Bucksport mill. About three-quarters of the affected workers took a voluntary severance package.

Company officials and outside observers blamed the layoffs on the economic climate, low demand for the type of paper that the machine produced, and international competition.

Now that Verso has been certified as being eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits, workers can receive training for a new job, help searching for a job and potentially financial assistance to help with the job search.

“While the news that some positions will be lost is devastating for dedicated and hard-working employees and their families, we are pleased the Department of Labor approved this application,” U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins said in a joint statement announcing the benefits. “Trade Adjustment Assistance is critical to ensuring that the Verso paper workers and their families get all of the resources they need in the upcoming months.”

Collins and Snowe said any workers at the Bucksport mill who were laid off or became partially separated on or after Feb. 13, 2010, are eligible for assistance.

Although a federal program, TAA benefits are distributed through the Maine Department of Labor. For information, call the Maine CareerCenter at 888-457-8883 or to to www.mainecareercenter.com/.

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