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Schumer Demands Answers From State For MT Picture Display Workers

Schumer Urges State Department of Labor to Immediately Release Trade Adjustment Funds to WorkersWorkers Waiting Over A Year for Benefits

US Senator Charles E. Schumer urged New York States Department of Labor today to immediately release extended unemployment insurance and job retraining benefits to those who lost their jobs at MT Picture Display. Schumer wrote a letter to New York State Commissioner of Labor to Linda Angello, calling on her to release funds due to workers so they can support their families and advance their job searches. In his letter, Schumer seeks answers on behalf of the workers, including how workers should apply for the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) benefits, and when they should expect to receive compensation.

These workers have been waiting far too long to get the benefits they need to make ends meet, Schumer said. I want to make sure they can support their families, learn new skills, and reenter the workforce as soon as possible. These workers deserve straight answers and immediate help from the state and its time they start to get what they deserve.

The federal government contributes funds to assist workers impacted by layoffs due to trade thru the TAA Program. Recently, however, some companies that have been determined eligible for TAA benefits have been subject to a waiting list of several months by the New York State Department of Labor.

In November of 2003, MT Picture Display, based in Horseheads, NY announced it would downsize in an effort to restructure in the face of increased imports from China. To soften the blow of these layoffs set to take place before Christmas, the company applied to the U.S. Department of Labor for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) a federal program that guarantees extended unemployment insurance and job retraining to the workers asked to leave the company. Schumer called the Assistant Secretary of Labor, Emily DeRocco, and sent her a letter urging her to approve the application so that benefits will be extended to the workers. After Schumers lobbying efforts, the company's application was approved and the workers were slated to receive federal benefits.

The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program is a federal program that provides aid to workers who lose their jobs or whose hours of work and wages are reduced as a result of increased imports. The program extends the following benefits:
" Training for employment in another job or career. Workers may receive up to 104 weeks of approved training in occupational skills, basic or remedial education, or training in literacy or English as a second language.
" Income Support. Workers can receive weekly cash payments called trade readjustment allowances (TRA) for 52 weeks after a worker's unemployment compensation benefit is exhausted and during the period in which a worker is participating in an approved fulltime 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.