After a nearly two-year battle with the Department of Labor, on April 2, 2019, former workers at Locke Insulator have won the right to Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) benefits.
In July 2017, the company announced its plans to close the company and lay off the 108 member of UE Local 120 who worked in the plant. The news took the local leadership by surprise because the year before, UE and the company had negotiated a three-year agreement set to expire in September 2019.
UE filed for TAA benefits, which would support former Local 120 members as they search for reemployment due to the plant closure. TAA benefits include income support while workers participate in full-time training (Trade Readjustment Allowances), support for the costs of training, and assistance with healthcare premium costs, to name a few.
The DOL initially denied the UE’s application but the union's request for reconsideration of that determination was granted. On April 2, 2019, the DOL ruled that UE proved that former Locke workers satisfied the criteria for certification of benefits. The DOL certified:
All workers of Locke Insulators, Inc., a subsidiary of NGK North America, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland who became totally or partially separated from employment on or after August 4, 2016, through two years from [April 2, 2019], are eligible to apply for adjustment assistance[.]
“Working folks have been severely impacted by job loss due to foreign trade, including services being outsourced to a foreign country and increased imports of articles or services,” said Irene Thomas, UE’s General Counsel. “Although I am dismayed by the length of time it took the DOL to resolve this matter, I am pleased that the Agency was willing to take its time to carefully review the facts that resulted in much-needed benefits to UE members,” she continued.
TAA Program benefits are available through the state. Workers entitled to these benefits should contact their local American Job Center to apply. The website http://servicelocator.org will provide the contact information for the nearest American Job Center.