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USW members at Victaulic Company granted Trade Assistance

02.24.09

March 2009, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

USW members at Victaulic Company granted Trade Assistance

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

LEHIGH VALLEY, February 15th- Jerry Green, President of the United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 2599 was notified by the United States Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employment and Training Administration Division of Trade Adjustment Assistance in Washington DC, approximately 260 laid-off workers of Victaulic Company, Forks Township, are eligible for employment assistance under the DOL’s Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program.

Under the Trade Act of 1974, the Department of Labor conducts an investigation into why workers lose their jobs and if found they were eligible for the job assistance, the DOL will provide grants to help them find a new career path. The assistance is provided if DOL finds workers jobs were loss to imports by foreign countries.

Under the program, laid-off workers may receive job search allowances, relocation allowances, case management, and other helpful re-employment services including receiving funds for training and school education.

Mr. Green stated the union filed a petition with the DOL to receive trade assistance on behalf of the laid-off workers at Victaulic and the agency began their investigation into the matter on October 21st, 2008.

Local 2599 represented approximately 520 workers at the Victaulic Company Forks Township facility in the beginning of 2008 but due to lay-offs the past twelve months more than 260 workers are without jobs, with it unknown when or if the workers will be recalled.

Local 2599 is located on East Lehigh Street in Bethlehem and in October, 2008 had 1,600 active members throughout the Lehigh Valley. However, because of lay-offs due to the economic slowdown at Victaulic, which manufactures pipefitting systems, and other employers the union represents, at least 400 of USW members are currently laid-off.

The union has two contracts with the Victaulic Company. The union represents approximately 120 workers employed at the Victaulic Company facility in Alburtis Township.

Mr. Green stated the union has also filed with the DOL to receive TAA for laid-off members employed at Prior Coated Metals in Allentown. Almost half of the 38 USW members employed at Prior Coated Metals have been laid-off.

The union conducted a mass information and directional meeting for the Victaulic Company Forks Township workers on February 17th at the USW building in Bethlehem. The meeting was attended by officials of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Career Link Center.

The Victaulic workers also qualified to receive DOL’s Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance (ATAA) program. The program encourages qualified effected older workers, 50 years old or older, to quickly obtain full-time employment by providing a wage subsidy in lieu of training and income support under the program.

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