Opp mill workers eligible for more benefits

Published 12:03 am Friday, March 25, 2011

Recently laid off Micolas Mills employees may be eligible for additional benefits, state officials said Thursday.

Johnston Textiles announced in November that it would consolidate the weaving operation in Opp with its finishing Operation in Phenix City by mid-January. Phenix City is about 150 miles northeast toward the Georgia state line.

Officials cited economic reasons for the move saying if both operations are in one area it cuts down on expenses.

The 135 employees who worked there were given the opportunity to relocate to the Phenix City operation, but only a handful did. Those who did not choose to relocate were offered unemployment benefits.

Alabama Department of Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees said that former employees of the mill, including on-site lease workers of Ambassador Personnel who were engaged in the production of woven and finished fabric, may be eligible for benefits under the federal Trade and Globalization Adjustment Assistance Act of 2009.

A petition filed on behalf of the workers was certified by the U.S. Department of Labor in December 2010.

The department found that the workers may have become unemployed as a result of increased imports.

Under the TGAAA, displaced workers may be eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits such as training, job search and relocation assistance and Health Coverage Tax Credit.

Workers who may have exhausted their cash benefits under other state and federal unemployment compensation programs, could be eligible for additional weekly benefits equivalent to the amount they were receiving under other programs.

In order to receive Trade Readjustment Allowance benefits, workers must be enrolled in training the latter of 26 weeks after the certification date or after their last qualifying separation, or a waiver of the training requirement must be granted by the state employment service division.

Additionally, former employees who are 50 years of age or older, who obtain work after their separation from the affected employer, may be eligible for allowances under the Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance program.

Surtees said that potentially eligible individuals will be notified individually as soon as they are identified.