Forbes should be thanked for work on TOC issue

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 24, 2004

No worker is immune from the impact of foreign competition in today’s global economy.

One need look no further than Pruden Boulevard to find a prime example.

Earlier this month the Tidewater Occupational Center, which employed mentally and physically handicapped people to make plastic-wrapped cutlery kits for corporate clients, closed after two years of $500,000 losses, due primarily to the loss of business to foreign competition.

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After the closing was announced, there was an outpouring of vocal support from family members of the workers and others in the community who made pleas on behalf of the 158 employees who lost their jobs.

While, sadly, nothing could be done to prevent TOC’s closing, at least someone has done something to help the displaced workers.

Rep. J. Randy Forbes announced yesterday that that TOC was certified by the U.S. Department of Labor as eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance for its employees. That program provides aid to workers who lose their jobs or whose work hours and wages are reduced as a result of increased imports.

Now, displaced TOC employees are eligible for training for employment on another job, income support known as readjustment allowances, job search allowances, and relocation allowances.

While none of these can replace the sense to pride, accomplishment and purpose that come with work, at least it’s some consolation. Forbes did good work for constituents who are not able to help themselves and for that he’s deserving of praise.