Duluth News Tribune: DELEGATION VIES TO ENSURE STEELWORKERS’ BENEFITS
After a backlog in processing federal benefits for laid-off steelworkers in 2015, the Iron Range’s congressional delegation introduced legislation to better protect those benefits.
U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, along with 8th District U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, sponsored the Workforce Training Enhancement Act to reimburse states that offer Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) to workers. Under the law, states providing TAA benefits to workers can receive money back while the worker’s petition is pending with the Department of Labor.
“Illegal steel dumping has caused layoffs in Minnesota and across the country in recent years and we must stand with laid-off workers to give them the support they deserve,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “While our efforts to combat steel dumping have paid-off and more workers are back on the job, many are still waiting for work. Our commonsense bill will provide much-needed relief to workers in Minnesota and across the country as they rejoin the workforce and support their families.”
In 2015, when illegally dumped foreign steel devastated the economy on the Iron Range, the Labor Department took up to 50 days to review and approve TAA petitions, which provide training and education benefits to laid-off workers.
Klobuchar, Franken and Nolan worked with the Obama administration to enact tariffs on steel imports, which helped the steel industry begin to bounce back last year.
“Our Iron Rangers were rocked by a painful economic downturn in the Northland that was caused by an influx of illegally priced Chinese steel flooding our markets, and we need to do everything we can to help Minnesotans get back to work,” Franken said. “We’ve seen positive signs that the economy in northern Minnesota is starting to recover—like the recent reopening of the Keetac mine in Keewatin—and this bill continues our commitment to help miners on the Iron Range and their families.”
Nolan, who was re-elected in November, was a key cog in the tariffs by convincing then-White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough to visit the Iron Range and speak with community and industry leaders.
On his way to a victory in November, Nolan was backed by the United Steelworkers around the Range.
“Illegal dumping of low-grade, foreign government-subsidized steel has devastated our workers and our communities,” Nolan said. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in this effort to bring relief to workers in Minnesota and across our Nation.”