The U.S. Department of Labor has approved a petition filed by the UFCW on behalf of the approximately 2,000 workers formerly employed at the shuttered Plainview, Texas, Cargill meatpacking plant. The approval of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) petition makes those former plant workers eligible to apply for extended unemployment, job retraining, and other federal programs under the Trade Act of 1974 that are designed to mitigate the adverse economic impacts of trade agreements.
The increase of beef imports due to the severe drought and its contribution to the closing of the plant made the plant workers eligible for the benefits under the Trade Act. During the 12 months preceding the closure of the plant, the drought forced packers to import more beef to try to secure enough supply to keep their plants operating at full capacity.
After the petition was approved, UFCW Local 540 sent out notices to all the laid-off workers informing them of the various programs available, and how to apply for them.
“Given that Congress has failed to extend unemployment benefits, the Department of Labor’s approval of this Trade Adjustment Assistance petition provides some much needed good news for those employees laid off by Cargill’s shutdown of the Plainview plant,” said Johnny Rodriguez, President of UFCW Local 540. “It will provide crucial resources to those workers to help them re-enter the workforce as quickly as possible, which in turn will help the overall economy.”
The UFCW’s TAA petition sought assistance in the form of extended unemployment insurance, job retraining, and other benefits for workers who were laid off when the plant closed. TAA provides such assistance to mitigate the negative impacts on workers, farmers, businesses and communities due to increased imports under trade agreements.