PORTLAND, Maine — Three members of Maine’s congressional delegation have written to the federal government’s top labor official, asking for expedited processing of a request for federal assistance for about 200 workers laid off at the Old Town Fuel & Fiber mill two weeks ago.
In his letter, Rep. Mike Michaud asks U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to “expeditiously and thoroughly consider” the company’s petition for federal support through the Trade Adjustment Assistance program. The program provides money to help workers at companies forced to lay off workers or close because of foreign competition.
“As one of the primary employers in Old Town, this displacement could result in serious economic consequences for the community and surrounding areas that are dependent on the mill,” Michaud wrote.
U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King also sent a letter to Perez on Tuesday urging him to approve the petition.
The mill, which sold market pulp, faced high wood costs and dropping prices for its products because of international competition, according to company and industry officials. The growth of eucalyptus harvesting for pulp in South America has put particular pressure on the global market for pulp.
Collins is up for re-election this year, and Michaud is the Democratic nominee in a three-way governor’s race.