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Labor Department Grants Relief To Pillowtex Workers

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Labor Department Grants Relief to Pillowtex WorkersThe US Department of Labor has moved with unusual speed to offer emergency financial aid to the textile workers who lost their jobs when Pillowtex shut down June 30. US Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao has announced two emergency grants totaling $20.6 million to help the displaced workers get retraining and to cover some costs of health insurance. A grant of $13 million will be used to provide what the labor department calls employment transition-related assistance, including education , on-the-job training and relocation services. In addition, a grant of $7.6 million will pay 65 percent of qualified health insurance premiums for eligible workers. The department said a decision is pending on a petition for additional help under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act that can provide assistance to workers who lose their jobs as a result of imports.One domestic textile industry source said that while the emergency aid grants will help the displaced Pillowtex workers, it does nothing to address the basic problem, which is unfair import competition. He said adjustment assistance is like waving to the horse as it runs out of the barn. By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent August 2003