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Laid-off workers in Freeport, Brunswick to receive extra training, benefits

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Laid-off workers in Freeport, Brunswick to receive extra training, benefits

BRUNSWICK — Employees who were laid off at Freeport's L.L. Bean and Cooper Wiring Devices in Brunswick could be eligible for retraining and job placement assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor.

On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, announced that workers who lost their jobs at the two manufacturers were entitled to additional benefits under the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance program.

The program assists workers who lost their jobs because companies shifted to manufacturers outside of the United States.

Last September, Cooper Wiring Devices announced it was closing its plant in Brunswick, resulting in the displacement of close to 80 workers. According to Pingree's office, Cooper moved some of its operations to Mexico.

In April, L.L. Bean laid off about 200 workers. The company said it did so because of lagging retail sales. But according to Pingree and the Department of Labor, workers are eligible for TAA benefits because the Freeport-based company began importing pet accessories, like dog beds. 

According to Pingree, Maine workers will be eligible for $3.5 million in additional benefits.

The benefits include counseling, testing and job-placement assistance; training benefits in approved programs, including paid tuition and expenses; job-search and relocation allowances; and health coverage tax credits to help laid-off workers pay health insurance premiums.

Workers who are over 50 years old could qualify for Re-employment Trade Adjustment Assistance or Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance – a wage subsidy program

"This is a tough time for Maine workers to lose their jobs and we need to do everything we can to help them find their next job," Pingree said in a prepared statement. "The benefits under the Trade Adjustment Assistance will help workers get retrained and will help with the expenses that come with looking for work."

For more information on the TAA program, visit maine.gov/labor/careerctr/TAA/. Former workers at L.L. Bean and Cooper Wiring Devices can also call 1-888-457-8883 or 1-800-794-1110 to inquire about forms for the TAA program.

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or smistler@theforecaster.net