U.S. Rep. Joseph Courtney is applauding the U.S. Department of Labor’s decision certifying that employees of Vernon textile manufacturer Amerbelle are eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance.
Under the TAA program, workers whose employment is adversely affected by increased imports are eligible for "re-employment services" to help them train for and find new jobs, Courtney said. Workers may also be eligible for relocation allowances, income support and other re-employment services, he said.
Courtney, the 2nd District Democrat who lives in Vernon, said he wrote to the Department of Labor on June 14 urging assistance for Amerbelle employees.
Amerbelle announced on June 5 that it was closing. One reason was foreign competition, executives said. Amerbelle is famous for its aerospace contributions, namely the high-tech Mars Pathfinder parachute. Its other textile contributions were backpacks, sailcloth, snow sports apparel and police vests.
Its building at 104 East Main St. dates back to just after the Civil War.
“It is critical that we do all we can to help workers who have lost their jobs in this tough economy,” Courtney said. “The men and women of Amerbelle have been battling with foreign competition for the past 25 years, surviving in the face of a relentless onslaught of cheap imports from countries without strong labor or environmental standards. They deserve another shot. The retraining and reemployment services TAA offers can help workers bounce back quickly, and give them the skills they need to compete. I am pleased with the Department of Labor’s decision, and hope it helps people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own.”
The TAA announcement "provides for the people of Amerbelle the security of knowing they’ll make it through this transition,” said Jon Moyer, Amerbelle's CFO. “This help will give them time to regroup on the skills they’ll need to continue to support their families, and will allow them to breathe a little easier. The speed at which the government came together and worked through this to provide support has been amazing. Representative Courtney called me 25 minutes after we announced we were closing, offering to help. From that moment until today, he has very proactively supported this effort and us. He took a pretty big load off all of our backs as we worked our way through this. He took a personal interest in us all, and got it done.”
Courtney said the TAA program will aid 85 workers at Amerbelle’s Vernon manufacturing site. Twenty Amerbelle workers have already been separated, and another 65 are scheduled to be separated by August 30.