Congressman Joe Courtney today applauded the U.S. Department of Labor's decision certifying that employees of Vernon textile manufacturer Amerbelle are eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). Under the TAA program, workers whose employment is adversely affected by increased imports are eligible for reemployment services to help them train for and find new jobs. Workers may also be eligible for relocation allowances, income support and other reemployment services. Courtney wrote to the Department of Labor on June 14 urging assistance for Amerbelle employees.
"It is critical that we do all we can to help workers who have lost their jobs in this tough economy," said Congressman Courtney. "The men and women of Amerbelle have been battling with foreign competition for the past 25 years, surviving in the face of a relentless onslaught of cheap imports from countries without strong labor or environmental standards. They deserve another shot. The retraining and reemployment services TAA offers can help workers bounce back quickly, and give them the skills they need to compete. I am pleased with the Department of Labor's decision, and hope it helps people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own."
"For the people of Amerbelle, this news provides the security of knowing they'll make it through this transition," said Jon Moyer, Amerbelle CFO. "This help will give them time to regroup on the skills they'll need to continue to support their families, and will allow them to breathe a little easier. The speed at which the government came together and worked through this to provide support has been amazing. Representative Courtney called me 25 minutes after we announced we were closing, offering to help. From that moment until today, he has very proactively supported this effort and us. He took a pretty big load off all of our backs as we worked our way through this. He took a personal interest in us all, and got it done."
"Today's news that the Department of Labor has certified the eligibility of our members at Amerbelle Textiles for Trade Adjustment Assistance is extremely heartening," said UNITE HERE Executive Vice President Warren Pepicelli, Manager of New England Joint Board. "The New England Joint Board of UNITE HERE is grateful for the rapid response to help our workers in this difficult time. We wish to extend our gratitude for Congressman Courtney's extremely hard work on behalf of our members and their families. By working with our membership and the company he has shown strong leadership and his undying devotion to his constituents. Our union, with a strong history of membership in the manufacturing industry is very familiar with the harsh effects of global trade and competition in the industry. In the face of such steep competition it is necessary that we push for legislation, such as the Bring Jobs Home Act, that aims to protect our domestic industrial base from the extreme effects of unfair competition. Even though it is the end of an era for Connecticut, we hope that with this vital assistance our members at Amerbelle will be able to continue successfully into other opportunities."
TAA would help 85 workers at Amerbelle's Vernon manufacturing site. Twenty Amerbelle workers have already been separated, and another 65 are scheduled to be separated by August 30 -- a move the company announced on June 5.