Elastic Corp. workers may get federal aid

Employees of Elastic Corporation of America, which announced it will shut down its Columbiana plant later this year, may be eligible for special government benefits.

Under the Federal Trade Act of 2002, The U.S. Department of Labor provides assistance for anyone who produced elastic tapes and medical wraps and was let go from jobs because of increased imports of those items. Phyllis Kennedy, director of the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations, said a petition on behalf of Elastic Corp. workers was certified by the U.S. Department of Labor on Feb. 16.

The Elastic Corporation produces elastic tapes that make up the bands in under garments for companies like Fruit of the Loom, Vanity Far and Jockey.

The certification means employees may be eligible for vocational training, relocation allowances, job search support and tax breaks. Employees can also receive additional payments if they have reached a time limit for other state or federal unemployment programs. To qualify for these payments, the employee must be enrolled in training within eight weeks of the certification date.

Those that are 50 years or older may also gain help from another program known as the Alternative Adjustment Assistance program. This benefit allows them to receive wage subsidy checks to bridge the gap between their old and new jobs.

Any workers eligible to receive support from either of these programs will be notified in writing