U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) today announced that RG Steel employees and retirees will be eligible for benefits to help them seek new employment and access affordable health coverage, which will directly affect recently laid off employees, including the almost 2,000 workers at Baltimore's Sparrows Point. In June, Senators Mikulski and Cardin sent letters to U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Hilda Solis and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman urging them to ensure that eligible RG Steel workers be eligible for this assistance
"This federal assistance is welcome news for workers and their families continuing to struggle with the closure of Sparrows Point," Senator Mikulski said. "I believe that in America, if you work hard and play by the rules, you should have a fair shot at supporting your family after losing a job through no fault of your own. Access to health care and training opportunities will help RG Steel employees working hard to get back on their feet. I will continue to do all I can to get information and answers for the workers at Sparrows Point so that they can access the care and support they have earned and deserve."
"This decision by DOL is very positive news for RG steelworkers and their families who have been so severely impacted by the bankruptcy of RG Steel and the sale of Sparrows Point," said Senator Cardin. "RG steelworkers have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and I have strongly urged DOL to provide RG steelworkers with TAA to help with retraining and HCTC to help pay for health care costs. These benefits will help steelworkers and their families weather this dislocation."
RG Steel filed for bankruptcy on May 31, which has serious consequences for the company's 4,000 employees and their families in Maryland, West Virginia and Ohio, as well as retirees. The Senators have been working to make sure that eligible employees and retirees receive vital support, including Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and the Health Care Tax Credit (HCTC) benefits. These programs are lifelines to employees who are laid off and are training for new employment, as well as for retirees who may be eligible for HCTC.
The TAA program ensures that workers who lose their jobs as a result of outsourcing to foreign countries are provided with training and financial assistance to transition to new employment. The HCTC, which is part of the TAA program, makes health insurance coverage more affordable for workers who lose their jobs due to trade and for retirees who receive pension payments through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
Affected Sparrows Point employees should visit their local One-Stop Career Center (http://www.dllr.state.md.us/county/baco/ ) to apply for TAA benefits. HCTC affordable health coverage is available for TAA recipients through the IRS -- which can be reached through the HCTC Customer center at 866-628-HCTC (4282). For more complete information on applying for these benefits, visit http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/taa_information_guide.pdf .