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IAM, WSLC secure federal aid for laid-off Alcoa Intalco workers

FERNDALE (July 9, 2020) — The U.S. Department of Labor on Wednesday approved a Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) petition filed by the International Association of Machinists (IAM) with the assistance of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO for the more than 700 workers being laid off at Alcoa’s Intalco Works aluminum smelter in Ferndale, Wash. With the TAA certification, those workers will now eligible to receive extra federal resources and training to help them regain employment.

Members of Washington’s congressional delegation, led by Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA, 1st) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), supported for the IAM’s petition via a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor asking for timely and positive consideration. Signatories also included Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA, 2nd).

“These layoffs could not have come at a worse time amid a global pandemic,” DelBene said. “The transition for the workers at the Intalco facility won’t be easy, but the TAA assistance approved today is a critical resource for them and their families during this difficult time.”

“I’m glad to see the Intalco facility’s workers get the critical federal support they need during this transition, and I will continue to do whatever I can in Congress to help bridge the gap for these workers,” Murray added.

With Alcoa’s decision to curtail operations at the Intalco Works smelter, layoffs began in April and are expected to conclude by the end of this month. With TAA certification, those 700 laid-off workers are now eligible for a range of federal benefits, which can include:

●  Out-of-area job search allowances,
●  Relocation assistance,
●  Training/tuition support,
●  Extended income support,
●  Partial wage replacement for older workers,
●  And more.

“We extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who worked so hard to expeditiously secure TAA,” said Zach Griffith, President of IAM Local Lodge 2379. “This is a vital resource for our members affected and comes at a very crucial time for many. Many families are struggling right now and this is a much-needed resource to help folks get back on track.”

This was the IAM’s second successful effort this month to advocate for their members facing layoffs through no fault of their own. The union also helped win TAA certification for its members being laid off by The Boeing Co. in a petition filed by Machinists District Lodge 751, the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace/IFPTE 2001, and the WSLC.

The IAM, WSLC and congressional leaders had fought hard urge Alcoa to reconsider the plant’s shutdown and for the Trump administration to immediately act to address the trade rules that have restricted domestic aluminum production and harmed the Intalco Works smelter’s ability to be profitable. But given Alcoa’s continued insistence that the smelter would be shut down, the IAM and WSLC filed the TAA petition to make sure these 700 workers and their families got the most help possible.

“Our first priority is always to seek creative ways to avoid plant closure and retain good family-wage jobs like those at Intalco Works,” said Bill Messenger, Workforce Development Director for the WSLC. “But in case those efforts are unsuccessful, we worked with IAM District Lodge 160 and IAM Local Lodge 2379 to file and support this TAA petition. We wanted to make sure these folks have access to all of the job retraining and reemployment program opportunities that are available. We are pleased that the petition was approved.”

The WSLC’s Workforce Development Department advocates for Washington’s working families from initial entry into the workforce, to career transitions, and when facing job loss. Learn more here.

In Washington, the TAA program is administered by the state’s Employment Security Department (ESD), and employment and case management services are provided by local WorkSource offices. Each individual worker must apply for the program at the state level to confirm eligibility and benefits provided are unique to each person’s re-employment needs.

IF YOU ARE A LAID-OFF ALCOA INTALCO WORKER — You will be notified by mail from ESD and you should be offered the opportunity to attend a TAA orientation/enrollment session. At the end of this session, you will be assigned a case manager. But you can go ahead and start researching now about what type of schooling/training could help you on your next employment. Folks at your local Worksource office can help you fill out the necessary paperwork and help you through the next steps of this important enrollment process. If you have trouble with this process or need to talk about options, please contact Bill Messenger via email to make an appointment. But please, wait for your notification from ESD first.

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