Kerry, Kennedy, Lynch urge Department of Labor to assist SWB workers
Senators John Kerry and Edward Kennedy today, along with Congressman Stephen Lynch, wrote a letter to Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, urging her to fast-track all applications for federal assistance from former employees of SWB New England.
The West Bridgewater company closed its doors and laid off 140 workers last month.
"With no advance notice to look for new jobs, this abrupt closing has left dozens of hardworking people out in the cold right before the holidays. This is unacceptable. These workers played by the rules and contributed to the economy of Southeastern Massachusetts. We owe it to them to help them through these difficult economic times," said Senator Kerry. "I strongly urge Secretary Chao and the Department of Labor to expedite all applications and assist these people as quickly as feasibly possible. The very livelihood of 140 Massachusetts workers and their families is a stake."
"I hope Secretary of Labor Chao will assist these workers. Their lives were turned upside down by the sudden shutdown at SWB New England, and we should do everything possible to help them through this difficult time," said Senator Kennedy.
Congressman Stephen F. Lynch said, "Through no fault of their own, the workers at SWB New England now find themselves out of work and without the means to support their families. Because of their employers' failure to warn them in advance, we are calling on Secretary Chao to help ensure that these workers are provided with the tools they need to stay afloat, get back on their feet and rejoin the workforce as soon as possible."
The text of the letter is as follows:
November 2, 2007
Honorable Elaine Chao
Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20210
Dear Secretary Chao:
We are writing to notify you about the abrupt closing of SWB New England, a company formerly located in the town of West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, and to ask for your assistance in ensuring that all former employees of this company are provided every opportunity to access any and all forms of federal assistance available through the Department of Labor.
Last month, SWB New England very suddenly made the decision to close its doors, providing its 140 employees with little advanced noticeand no written noticeprior to shutting down.
As you know, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) requires businesses that employ 100 or more workers to provide at least 60 days advance notice prior to closing a plant. When businesses violate the WARN Act, workers can receive up to 60 days of compensation if they bring an action in a federal district court. We are concerned that former employees of SWB New England have not been made aware of their rights under the WARN Act, and we request your assistance in notifying these employees of these rights.
In addition, as a result of the lack of notice provided prior to termination, former employees of SWB New England were given little opportunity to search for jobs or to apply for unemployment benefits prior to finding themselves out of work. We therefore request that the Department of Labor assist these workers in receiving any available federal assistance.
We owe it to these workers to ensure that they receive all possible assistance during this time of transition. We hope that you will work with us to ensure that the former employees of SWB New England receive what is due to them under state and federal law.
We thank you for your attention to this matter.
Senator John Kerry
Senator Edward Kennedy
Congressman Stephen Lynch