September 5, 2006
The Honorable Elaine L. Chao
United States Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210
Dear Secretary Chao:
We are writing regarding the planned closing later this year of the Owens-Illinois bottling plant in Godfrey, Illinois. We request the immediate assistance of the Department of Labor (DOL) in helping the 261 Owens-Illinois workers who will lose their jobs through no fault of their own prepare for what will be a difficult adjustment for them and their community.
Specifically, we request that the Department of Labor immediately mobilize resources through the DOL Rapid Response program to begin working with state and local workforce development agencies and local One-Stop Career Centers to help Owens-Illinois employees transition into new jobs. These workers will need career counseling and job search assistance; information about unemployment insurance; opportunities for education and training; and information about their health benefits and pensions options. We understand that Rapid Response specialists have a unique ability to provide this training, and we request that these specialists be mobilized immediately to help displaced Owens-Illinois workers.
Further, we support any future applications by the State of Illinois for Department of Labor National Emergency Grants to expand the state's capacity to respond to this challenge. And should it be determined that a shift in production to a foreign country or competition from foreign imports played a role in the loss of these jobs, we urge the Department to give serious consideration to providing my constituents with Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). We appreciate the Department's approval of TAA funding for workers displaced by the Maytag plant closing in Herrin, Illinois, among other assistance provided to former Maytag workers; we hope that our constituents in Godfrey will be given similar consideration.
We appreciate your timely consideration of these requests. This plant closing will have a significant impact on our constituents in Godfrey and the surrounding communities. We look forward to working with you to provide these people with the help they require.
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin
U.S. Senator Barack Obama