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Date:November 24, 2008
Contact:Public Relations @ (225) 342-3035

La. Workforce Commission Staff in Bastrop to Assist IP Employees

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Workforce Commission representatives are in Bastrop today to expedite the delivery of employment assistance services to workers being laid off from International Paper.

Workforce Development Director Stacy Bonnaffons traveled to Bastrop this morning with Gov. Bobby Jindal. They are meeting with local leaders and International Paper officials to address the paper mill’s closure. Bonnaffons will join members of the Workforce Commission’s Rapid Response team, local Workforce Investment Board personnel and IP managers to work out the details of how assistance services can be delivered to laid off employees as quickly as possible.

“We have worked closely with IP in the past and will continue to make sure that the full array of our services is made available to the company and its employees,” Bonnaffons said.

The company on Friday announced an indefinite closure of its facility, which will affect about 550 employees. Bonnaffons traveled to Bastrop Friday to meet with mill management and assess the needs of employees firsthand.

The mill is the largest employer in Morehouse Parish, with an annual payroll of about $30 million and about 550 employees. Most of the employees were placed on a temporary layoff earlier this month, but company officials said a further downturn in the business outlook for IP in the past two weeks led to the indefinite closure.

All of those who were laid off earlier had already been offered services from the Workforce Commission and most of them have signed up for unemployment benefits or job assistance. The remaining workers will be offered these services, and a greater emphasis will be placed on job placement assistance, educational services and job training for career development.

Other services include job counseling, job search workshops, labor market information, résumé preparation assistance, interview preparation, online job search assistance, veterans’ assistance information, trade adjustment assistance, debt counseling, out-of-area job search assistance, relocation assistance and other supportive services as needed.

In addition, the Workforce Commission also will file applications with the U.S. Department of Labor for a National Emergency Grant and Trade Adjustment Act assistance. If approved, both would make more money available to transition the laid off workers back into the workforce. TAA assistance also can be used to make up for any income drops between the employees’ IP jobs and their next jobs, as well as such things as relocation and transportation assistance.

Workforce Commission services are provided at no cost to the employer or participating employees.


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