WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Representative David Trone, and U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (all D-Md.) today announced Maryland’s Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) application for Verso was approved by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The trio submitted a letter supporting Maryland’s application on May 13th. The bipartisan letter expresses the strongest support for the application that the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) sent on behalf of the workers at Luke Mill.
“TAA approval is welcome news for Verso’s employees and the community of Luke, who deserved much better than having their lives upended by the shutdown of the paper mill,” said Senator Cardin. “Team Maryland came together to support TAA designation, which will help with retraining and health care costs. These benefits will help ease the burden of a community reeling from years of unfair foreign competition and ownership disruptions. We will continue to support the local community as they confront the many challenges resulting from the loss of this significant regional employer and look toward the next chapter for the Luke mill.”
“The workers of Luke Mill are among the hardest-working and most dedicated employees in the country,” said Rep. Trone. “This grant will help provide education, training, and support these workers as they fight for their future. I am proud of Maryland’s collaborative effort to secure these vital resources. I will always proudly stand behind the workers of Luke Mill.”
“The sudden closure of the Verso paper mill has left hundreds of families out in the cold, and I’ve been working with Team Maryland from day one to provide help. I’m pleased that the application for Trade Adjustment Assistance has been approved, as it will provide crucial relief to the community as it moves forward. I was proud to support this federal assistance and will continue to fight for the residents of Luke and all of the paper mill employees,” said Senator Van Hollen.
Verso announced that it would close its paper mill in Luke, Maryland on April 30, 2019. TAA will be essential in providing the approximately 675 Verso employees the resources they need to gain employment after the closure of the mill.
See a copy of the delegation’s letter here.
Text of the letter is below.
May 13, 2019The Honorable Alexander Acosta Secretary of Labor U.S. Department of Labor 200 Constitution Avenue NW Washington, DC 20210
Dear Secretary Acosta:
We write to express our strongest bipartisan support for the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) application filed by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) on behalf of workers at Verso Corporation’s paper mill in Luke, Maryland (case # TA-W-94771). TAA will be essential in providing the approximately 675 Verso employees the resources they need to gain employment after the closure of the mill.
Verso announced on April 30, 2019, that it would close its paper mill in Luke, Maryland effective June 30. The work there has specialized in producing coated freesheet paper. The company cited “a significant influx of imports” when announcing its decision to shut down operations, and the purpose of TAA is to assist workers who lose their job for this reason.
The paper mill has been an economic driver for the area around Luke for 131 years, employing multiple generations of workers from a region that includes residents of Maryland and West Virginia. Many of these individuals have devoted decades of their lives to the mill, which has dominated the local job market. In order to find suitable and meaningful employment opportunities in the future, they will need retraining and education services offered as part of TAA.
We would also note that the Luke paper mill provides essential services for the Town of Luke, including drinking water and sewage treatment, and its closure will have a significant detrimental impact on the surrounding community.
We ask that you give the TAA application for the workers at the Verso paper mill in Luke, Maryland, your utmost and expeditious consideration. The community is facing an incredible challenge, and access to these resources will be essential in charting the path forward.