Press Release

With Gillibrand Support, Fulton Birds Eye Workers Secure TAA Assistance

Dec 30, 2011

Washington, D.C. – With the closure of the Birds Eye plant in Fulton expected to affect upwards of 300 workers in Central New York, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced the U.S. Labor Department has approved Workers United’s application for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) to provide impacted workers with new training opportunities, job search and income support, relocation allowances and other important assistance.

Earlier this month, Senator Gillibrand wrote to U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis urging her to support the workers application for the assistance they need in anticipation of these layoffs.

“This support is incredibly important for these Central New York workers who are losing their jobs through no fault of their own,” Senator Gillibrand said. “When New York jobs get shipped away, our workers deserve every opportunity to keep making ends meet for their families, and get the retraining they need so they  have the right skills for the jobs of the new economy.”

“On behalf of Local 1822 Workers United at Birdseye, we would like to thank Senator Gillibrand for supporting and helping get this petition approved,” said Eduardo E. Jofre, Business Agent for Workers United. “This certification opens a new world of opportunities for our members at the Fulton plant. I call this our government working for their people.”

“The Workforce Development Institute (WDI) applauds the U.S. Department of Labor’s decision to grant TAA resources in support of the workers at Birdseye, in Fulton; and commend the cooperation between organized labor, management, the community and state and federal elected officials which will benefit local men and women. We were happy to convene this group and participate in the application,” said Ed Murphy, WDI’s Executive Director.

TAA 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, assistance for health care costs, job search allowance, and relocation allowances. Qualified workers may quickly return to employment through a combination of these services. Now that Workers United’s petition has been approved by the U.S. Department of Labor, affected workers are now eligible to file for these TAA benefits from the New York State Department of Labor.

Senator Gillibrand’s full December 9 letter to U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis:

Dear Secretary Solis,

            I write in support of Workers United’s application for funding from the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program through the U.S. Department of Labor.  This funding will help extend benefits, such as job training, income support, job search and relocation allowances and other critical assistance, for dislocated workers affected by the closing of the Birds Eye plant in Fulton, New York. 

            Located in Central New York, the Birds Eye plant plays a vital role in the local economy with almost 300 employees.  With the impending closure of the plant at the end of the year, Workers United has partnered with the Workforce Development Institute, New York State AFL-CIO, Working for America Institute, and the New York State Department of Labor to provide vital assistance to the employees.

            This assistance will allow Workers United to provide impacted workers with opportunities to obtain the skills, resources and support they need to new employment.  Workers United strongly believes that the company is closing its Fulton, New York plant because of unfair foreign competition, therefore making the dislocated workers eligible for TAA.  Given the rise in imported produce from around the world, sales of Birds Eye have declined and led to the company’s need to consolidate.  The requested support will help the dislocated workers gain the skills necessary to find another job while still having the assistance needed to survive in this economy. 

I ask that you please give this application your full consideration.  If you have any questions, or desire further information, please do not hesitate to contact my staff member Andrew Usyk at (202) 224-4451.