State officials are in Tama today, helping the workers who used to have a job at the Meskwaki casino sign up for unemployment benefits. Mike Wilkinson, an Iowa Workforce Development bureau chief, says it’s the agency’s “rapid response” to a huge layoff, as the department steps in with special unemployment benefit sign-up locations and hours whenever there’s a major factory or facility shut-down in Iowa. Wilkinson says they also offer help in the search for a new job. The Sac and Fox tribe runs the casino on reservation land, and does not pay corporate income taxes to the state because of their status as a sovereign nation. But Wilkinson says the workers are still eligible for government jobless benefits. Wilkinson says the Sac and Fox tribal council pays unemployment insurance taxes to the government to cover the casino workers. Wilkinson expects most of the 13-hundred workers to file a claim. A dispute over just who has the right to manage the casino resulted in its closure last week.
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