OLYMPIA— Gov. Jay Inslee today thanked the US Department of Labor for approving his request for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance (RTAA) to assist workers and contractors affected by the recently-announced curtailment of the Alcoa facilities in Wenatchee and Ferndale. This curtailment is part of the company’s response to global economic forces, most notably the price of aluminum. Alcoa recently decided to delay curtailment of its facility in Ferndale until the end of the second quarter of 2016.
“This federal support will provide much needed assistance to help as many as 890 workers impacted by Alcoa’s curtailment plans,” Inslee said. “It will help these workers move into new careers to have a solid future.”
TAA and RTAA help retrain and re-employ workers who lost jobs due to international trade impacts. The federally funded programs assist workers with training, job search and relocation services and support benefits and provide wage subsidies for certain individuals who find work that pays less than their trade-impacted job. The state’s Employment Security Department will notify affected Alcoa employees by mail about the programs, but anyone who thinks they may be eligible for assistance should visit his or her local WorkSource center to learn more.
Inslee says the TAA and RTAA assistance will supplement efforts already underway by state and local leaders. Immediately after Alcoa’s initial curtailment announcement, the governor directed his cabinet agencies to do everything possible to help workers laid off by Alcoa. The Workforce Development Council in both regions affected by these layoffs are coordinating the workforce system’s response. The Employment Security Department is working with the Department of Commerce, the state Workforce Board and local Rapid Response teams to ensure workers can easily access the unemployment insurance benefits they deserve and to help workers identify new employment and training options they may need. The State Board of Community and Technical Colleges will also be providing over $218,000 for enrollment and financial aid to the Wenatchee Valley for the retraining of Alcoa workers.
Washington state has a long-standing commitment to protecting Alcoa manufacturing jobs and, over time, has established an infrastructure that allows Alcoa to be as competitive as possible. The company has tax preferences designed to help it compete, and the governor signed into law an extension of those tax preferences last year. Alcoa also benefits from Washington state’s low energy prices.
“We’ve been in regular discussions with the company since the curtailment was announced and will continue to work with them to determine if there is something that can be done to keep facilities operational,” Inslee said. “My state agencies, working with our federal partners, continue to help displaced workers and stand ready to help Alcoa ramp back up if or when market forces improve.”
The governor sent a letter on December 23, 2015 to US Department of Labor Secretary Perez urging the swift approval of TAA and RTTA.