Landrieu Urges Trade Adjustment Assistance For Bastrop Workers Affected by Paper Mill Closure
In letter to Secretary of Labor, Landrieu asks for 'expeditious' approval.
United States Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., today wrote a letter to Department of Labor Secretary Elaine Chao urging her to grant Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) to the workers who have lost their jobs due to the recent closure of the International Paper Mill in Bastrop, La. Established under the Trade Act of 1974, the TAA Program assists employees who lose their jobs or face a reduction in hours or wages due to increased imports.
"The closure of the mill will have an immediate and possibly lasting impact upon communities across northeast Louisiana," the letter says. "Approximately 550 hard working employees have lost their jobs at the outset of the holiday season. At the same time, the paper mill was by far the largest employer in Bastrop and supported dozens of businesses in the community. The job loss is particularly difficult for the entire Mississippi Delta region, which continues to struggle economically."
The state of Louisiana submitted its petition for Trade Adjustment Assistance December 1, 2008. The plant's closure is a huge loss for Northeast Louisiana, and Sen. Landrieu has pledged to work closely with federal, state and local leaders to ensure that the affected workers receive the support they need during this extremely difficult time.
"Trade Adjustment Assistance is especially warranted in these circumstances," the letter continues. "Foreign mills in South America, Indonesia and Russia which are subject to weaker environmental and labor laws, create identical products at substantially lower cost than those produced in the United States. This is fundamentally unfair to the hundreds of workers in Bastrop."
With the approval of Trade Adjustment Assistance, the state will have additional resources to fund job counseling, training and other critical initiatives to help workers get back on their feet in this difficult time. Sen. Landrieu has asked that the Department of Labor approve the petition in "the most expeditious manner possible."