Federal help is on the way for workers who have been laid off from their jobs at Alcoa.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D. - NY) announced Thursday the U.S. Department of Labor has approved a Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) certification.
That means former employees can now apply for TAA benefits.
TAA is a federal program established under the Trade Act of 1974.
Workers whose employment is adversely affected by increased imports and shifts in production outside the U.S. may apply for TAA, which provides a range of benefits and reemployment services, such as:
- Training for employment in another job or career. Workers are eligible for training in occupational skills, basic or remedial education, or training in literacy or English as a second language. Workers may also receive employment services such as case management, skills assessment, and job search assistance.
- Income Support. Workers can receive weekly cash payments called trade readjustment allowances (TRA) after a worker's unemployment compensation benefit is exhausted and during the period in which a worker is participating in an approved full-time training program.
- Job Search Allowance. Workers can get reimbursed for expenses incurred in seeking employment outside their normal commuting area.
- Relocation Allowances. Workers can receive reimbursement for approved expenses if they are successful in obtaining employment outside their normal commuting area and they need to relocate
In January, Alcoa announced plans to close two potlines at its Massena East smelter plant.
Earlier this month, union leaders at Alcoa's two Massena plants said the number of early retirements and severance buyouts from voluntary resignations are enough so no one should face involuntary job losses when the East plant closes this spring.
About 170 hourly workers at the East and West plants have accepted early retirement incentives that go into effect April 1.
Those incentives include a $25,000 lump sum payment and another $500 for each year worked to avert the need for massive job losses.
Workers already eligible to retire would get an extra two years added.
It was not known exactly how many salaried workers accepted similar incentives.