As many as nine-hundred Maytag workers in Newton may miss out on some of the unemployment benefits given to colleagues who lost their jobs sooner. That’s because a special one-year grant from the federal government is scheduled to run out on December 23rd and not all of Maytag’s workers in Newton will have been laid off by then.
Iowa Workforce Development director Dave Neil says unless that grant’s extended, there will be a real inequity in benefits. “You’ve had some line workers who have been laid off and are using those benefits today and so you’re going to have somebody who maybe (stood) right next to them when they were working, because they have more seniority, will be laid off after December 23rd and will not be entitled to those benefits,” Neil says.
The federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Grant provides special benefits to employees whose jobs are moving overseas or to Mexico. Those workers get unemployment benefits for a longer period of time and more money for job retraining. “As far as educational assistance and job retraining, the (Trade Adjustment Assistance Grant) benefits are far greater than just the regular dislocated worker benefits,” Neil says.
Neil says he’s working with Iowa’s congressional delegation to make sure the grant is extended so those extra benefits continue for Maytag workers laid off after December 23rd. “The squeaking wheel gets the grease as we all know in this world today,” Neil says. “I just think we’ve got to keep the wheel squeaking for these folks or we will wind up with a case of ‘have and have-nots.'”
Whirlpool plans a gradual shut-down of the Maytag plant in Newton, with eight-hundred Maytag employees losing their jobs before Christmas and another nine-hundred being laid off sometime in 2007. “We’ve been collecting names of employers who’re interested in approaching Maytag workers,” Neil says. “We have people interested as far away as Pennsylvania and other states.”