Federal Grant to Aid Iowa Workers Hurt By Plant Closure

By Conan Milner, Epoch Times
October 12, 2010 Updated: October 12, 2010

[xtypo_dropcap]T[/xtypo_dropcap]he U.S. Department of Labor granted Iowa more than $570,000 earlier this month to aid the nearly 200 workers affected by layoffs at Thermo Fisher Scientific in Dubuque.

The money comes from National Emergency Grants (NEG), a part of Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis’s discretionary fund, which is awarded based on a state's ability to meet specific guidelines in areas such as disaster, health coverage tax credit, and base realignment, and closure.

The recent Iowa grant meets NEG requirements for trade adjustment assistance (TAA), the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) dual enrollment in which company layoffs result in more than 50 workers, and where the department has determined that workers are TAA-eligible. However, any training to be provided with NEG funds to TAA-eligible workers must qualify under both the TAA and the WIA programs.

According to NEG guidelines, the primary purpose of the dual enrollment project is to provide TAA-eligible dislocated workers with services that are not available through the TAA program, and where state formula dislocated worker program funds are not sufficient to provide these services.

In a statement for the Iowa grant, Secretary Solis explained that the funds will help the workers transition into “better and permanent jobs,” but also provide additional assistance (such as transportation and dependent care) not covered by the TAA program.

The grant was awarded to Iowa Workforce Development, and will be operated by the East Central Intergovernmental Association. The Labor Department generally awards NEG funds to fill a temporary gap to ensure that workers will have access to training as soon as possible after previous employment.

Thermo Fisher Scientific provides equipment and services to pharmaceutical companies, research institutions, and government agencies. The company issued a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice in December of last year announcing the phased layoffs that continued through Sept. 2010 when the plant was permanently closed.

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