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Feds say foreign trade led to Climax layoffs

Commerce — Former workers eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance program


Workers who were laid off from Climax Portable Machining and Welding Systems are eligible to receive benefits through the federal trade adjustment assistance (TAA) program, the Department of Labor determined this month.

In early January Climax laid off 36 workers in one day, triggering a petition filed by the Central Trade Act Unit in Salem. The TAA program provides laid-off workers with expanded benefits when the layoffs were spurred by foreign competition, such as increased imports of products undercutting domestic sales.

Climax does business globally, with General Electric, Siemens Power Generation and Caterpillar among its corporate clients, to name a few. The company has representatives in 32 countries, according to its website.GARY ALLEN - Workers who were laid off from Climax Portable Machining and Welding Systems are eligible to receive benefits through the federal trade adjustment assistance (TAA) program, the Department of Labor determined this month.

Those global operations led to the petition, as the CTAU “saw the potential connection for the trade impact,” TAA Coordinator Ricque Smith said.

In its investigation the DOL collected information from both Climax, its declining customers and other sources.

The investigation found that Climax sales have decreased in the past year, while at the same time imports of the same products from other countries have increased.

These factors “contributed importantly” to the layoffs, TAA investigator Del Min Amy Chen wrote, and the petition was certified for the TAA program on April 15.

That means the 36 workers laid off Jan. 8 can apply for the program, but also that any workers who were laid off during the preceding year are also eligible. The same goes for anybody laid off through April 15, 2018, or two years after the petition was certified.

Sources told this newspaper up to 60 positions were cut from late-2014 through early 2016 amidst a period of change for the company. A downturn in the mining, oil and gas markets caused revenues to fall, and what many thought would be a banner year for Climax turned out to fall far short of projections.

Following a management change the company began a period of restructuring and job cuts, which CEO Tom Cunningham described as “necessary and positive overall for the company.”

The TAA program aims to help workers get re-employed and offers retraining services, additional unemployment payments, health credits, wage subsidies, financial aid to offset moving costs for a new job, and more.

Smith said last week the Central Trade Act Unit is working to obtain the list of affected workers, and that each worker will then receive an invitation to attend a Trade Act Information Session.

“At the session, workers will be advised of benefits and services they may be eligible for and be given an application to complete for individual eligibility,” she said.

The information session will also explain the next steps in the TAA process. Questions about the process can be directed to the trade act unit at 1-877-639-7700.

Foreign trade has had a particularly strong impact on the Newberg economy recently, as the WestRock paper mill closure and mass layoff of more than 200 employees was also certified for the TAA program.