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WSLC helps laid-off McClatchy workers nationwide get benefits

OLYMPIA (Jan. 19, 2022) — The Bellingham Herald, a newspaper that’s part of the McClatchy publishing company, laid off three workers from its Financial Business Department last summer and relocated that work to India. One of those workers called the Washington State Employment Security Department to find out what assistance was available, and after describing the situation, was referred to the Workforce Development Department of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

The end result: more than 200 laid-off McClatchy workers across the nation are now eligible for additional federal aid that includes extended unemployment benefits, maintenance of healthcare benefits, retraining assistance, and much more.

One of the many services the WSLC’s Workforce Development Department provides is assistance in filing petitions for the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), a federal program that provides aid to workers who lose their jobs or work hours as a result of offshoring or increased imports. If the Department of Labor certifies the TAA petition, those workers are eligible for a range of benefits that can include out-of-area job search allowances, relocation assistance, training/tuition support, extended income support, partial wage replacement for older workers, and more.

WSLC Workforce Development Director Emmanuel Flores helped the laid-off Bellingham Herald workers file their TAA petition. During the DOL investigation, the petition was expanded to include other McClatchy newspapers in 11 states that had similarly offshored jobs. And last month, they received their final certification. That means that more than 200 laid-off McClatchy workers are now eligible for TAA program services, including 12 workers at the News Tribune in Tacoma, five at the Olympian, four at the Tri-City Herald in Kennewick, and a total of six workers at the Bellingham Herald.

“The TAA program offers critical support to laid-off workers who are found to be eligible — from career counseling to retraining — with an approved TAA training plan, they could be eligible for Trade Readjustment Allowance, which is like extended unemployment benefits and possibly a Health Coverage Tax Credit to help maintain health-insurance coverage,” Flores said. “So it’s a big deal that this was expanded to more workers who suffered similar job losses at other McClatchy newspapers.”

In fiscal year 2020, the most recent year for which annual data is available, Washington state had a total of 37 TAA petitions filed, and the WSLC Workforce Development Department assisted on most, if not all of those petitions. Washington has an 87 percent success rate of TAA petitions being certified. Among them in 2020 were the successful TAA petitions filed with support from the WSLC and its affiliated unions for more than 700 laid-off workers at the Intalco aluminum smelter in Ferndale and for workers at Boeing who lost or will lose their jobs from May 5, 2019 to June 23, 2022.

The 2020 certifications resulted in about $28 million in TAA benefits to aid laid-off workers in Washington state, which included about $9.75 million of Trade Readjustment Allowance to workers.

“These benefits are real. They help workers pay their bills, keep food on the table, and transition between jobs with dignity,” Flores said. “When you lose a job, particularly a good union job, it may seem like a small consolation to get TAA benefits — and it is. But it’s an important one.”

From initial entry to the workforce, to career transition, and when facing job loss, the WSLC’s Workforce Development Department seeks to ensure universal access to portable skills and a voice in career development, continuity for those navigating the workforce system, and an economy that works for both workers and businesses. Learn more here.

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