Press Release

Senator Gillibrand Urges GM To Apply For TAA Assistance On Behalf Of Displaced Tonawanda Workers

Jun 3, 2009

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sent a letter to Fritz Henderson, Chairman of General Motors, late yesterday on behalf of Tonawanda employees, who are expected to lose their jobs due to the company’s decision to shift more engine production to Mexico. On Monday, GM announced that they will be eliminating 271 jobs at the Tonawanda Engine Plant in Western New York, a large portion of which will be moving to Mexico. Senator Gillibrand’s letter urged GM to apply for trade adjustment assistance (TAA) benefits for their former employees.


“Especially during this difficult economic time, there is nothing more disheartening for a family than losing a job. TAA would provide financial assistance and training programs that are made to help workers have a soft landing and get them a decent job as soon as possible. It is imperative that we support our New York workers,” Senator Gillibrand said.


The TAA program is a federal program that provides aid to workers who lose their jobs or whose hours of work and wages are reduced as a result of increased imports or outsourcing. The program extends benefits including training for employment in another job or career, income support, job search allowance, and relocation allowances. Qualified workers may quickly return to employment through a combination of these services.


The text of the letter follows:


Fritz Henderson

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

General Motors Corporation

300 Renaissance Center

Mail Code: 482-C39-B30

Detroit, MI 48265-3000


Dear Mr. Henderson


In light of this morning’s announcement that General Motors expects to shift more engine production to Mexico and eliminate 271 positions at the engine plant in Tonawanda, NY, I am writing to urge you to assist the affected workers and their families by petitioning for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) on their behalf.  TAA offers retraining and other temporary benefits for workers affected by the movement of jobs abroad.  As the majority of the workers affected by this decision work on the engine line that is being relocated abroad, I believe these workers will present a strong case for assistance, and encourage your company to work with the workers to secure this help.


Submitting a petition for TAA is a simple process that will ensure that these workers have access to the resources they need to relocate, train for new skills, and acquire new employment.  In addition, TAA will provide temporary assistance in retaining health care, income security, and other benefits that these workers will need as they seek to continue to provide for their families and look for work during a difficult economic time. 


I appreciate your attention to this matter, and I hope that you will be able to work with the affected workers at the Tonawanda engine plant to ensure their access to all the benefits they deserve.  Please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff should your company or your workers require any further assistance with this process. 


Sincerely yours,


Kirsten E. Gillibrand

U.S. Senator