Laid off Alcoa workers eligible for federal assistance
Friday, March 28, 2014 - 6:01 am

MASSENA -- Former Alcoa employees in Massena can now apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits aimed at helping U.S. workers who might have lost their jobs due to foreign competition.

Earlier this month, New York’s U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wrote Labor Secretary Thomas Perez urging him to support Alcoa employees’ petition for TAA, noting that it will impact a significant number of workers.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently approved a TAA certification for laid off Massena workers.

“This support is incredibly important for Alcoa workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own,” Gillibrand said. “When New York jobs get shipped away, our workers deserve every opportunity to keep making ends meet for their families, and get the retraining they need so they have the right skills for the jobs of the new economy.”

In January, Alcoa announced plans to close two potlines at its Massena East smelter. With approximately 1,100 workers and a local economic impact of $340 million a year, Alcoa is one of the largest employers in the North Country.

TAA is a federal program established under the Trade Act of 1974. Workers whose employment is adversely affected by increased imports and shifts in production outside the U.S. may apply for TAA, which provides a range of benefits and reemployment services, such as:

• Workers are eligible for training in occupational skills, basic or remedial education, or training in literacy or English as a second language. Workers may also receive employment services such as case management, skills assessment, and job search assistance.

• Workers can receive weekly cash payments called trade readjustment allowances (TRA) after a worker's unemployment compensation benefit is exhausted and during the period in which a worker is participating in an approved full-time training program.

• Workers can get reimbursed for expenses incurred in seeking employment outside their normal commuting area.

• Workers can receive reimbursement for approved expenses if they are successful in obtaining employment outside their normal commuting area and they need to relocate.