Sens. Collins, King Urge Labor Dept. To Approve Assistance For Bucksport Mill Workers

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King are urging U.S. Labor Department Secretary Thomas Perez to swiftly approve a Petition for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for the 500 workers affected by Verso Paper’s decision to close the Bucksport mill.
Below is the full text of their letter to Secretary Perez: 
October 2, 2014
The Hon. Thomas Perez
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20210
Dear Mr. Secretary:
We are writing on behalf of more than 500 workers at Verso Paper Corporation in Bucksport, Maine, who are being displaced due to increased imports and foreign competition.  A Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) application has been filed in accordance with TAA regulations, in an effort to assist the workers with much needed support and resources.
Verso is a leading North American producer of coated paper, including the lightweight coated groundwood and specialty papers produced at the Bucksport mill.  However, due to shrinking demand attributable to foreign competition, Verso Paper Corporation is being forced to scale back its annual production and, consequently, its workforce. Given the rural location of the paper company, and the significant loss of jobs throughout Maine’s pulp and paper industry in recent years, the laid off workers face a monumental hurdle in identifying and securing alternative employment.  Since many related wood product manufacturers have already experienced closures as a result of similar declines in business due to foreign trade, including the closure of a mill in Old Town, Maine, in August, it is unlikely that these workers will find comparable positions, and they may require retraining for other emerging occupations.  Thus, it is crucial that these workers receive certification under the TAA program.
We urge that you review this Trade Adjustment Assistance application in a timely manner, consistent with all rules and regulations, to ensure that the workers receive the assistance they need to obtain work and to help reduce the negative effects this action will have on their financial stability. This assistance is of paramount importance to us, the displaced workers, and the families they support.
Thank you for your time and consideration on behalf of the workers at Verso Paper Corporation in Bucksport, Maine.