Laid-off IBM workers eligible for extended benefits and retraining


Almost all workers laid off from IBM's Vermont plant since June 2013 are now eligible for extended unemployment benefits and support for job retraining, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., announced Tuesday.

The federal Trade Adjustment Assistance program is available for people displaced from their work as a result of foreign trade.

The Vermont Department of Labor petitioned for the federal benefits immediately after 419 workers were laid off from the high-tech manufacturing plant last summer. But the U.S. Department of Labor only certified the petition for about 115 of the workers who worked in the plant's Williston facility.

Sanders, who joined in urging a favorable decision from the federal labor department, said in a press release Tuesday that more than 300 additional workers will now be eligible. A few positions, mostly administrative, were not granted eligibility.

Most laid off in February's recent round of cuts also qualify for assistance.

Because the petition was filed in 2013, the benefits afforded by certification are more generous than what would be available now, due to a sunset provision that took effect Jan. 1, 2014. Even workers laid off in 2014 or into 2015 will be eligible automatically for the more generous assistance package.

TAA offers both financial and skills-oriented support, including:

* Up to 130 weeks of full-time or part-time job training.

* Up to 130 weeks of extended unemployment benefits for workers enrolled in full-time job training programs.

* A wage subsidy for as long as two years for workers who are 50 years old or older and re-employed in jobs that pay less than $50,000.

* A tax credit covering 72.5 percent of the worker's monthly premium for qualified health insurance.

* Reimbursement for the cost of relocating to a job in a different state or region.

* Reimbursement for job search costs.

Vermont Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan said the TAA benefits are much more generous than what is allocated for other laid-off workers.


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