Baucus and Tester announce assistance for laid-off rail workers

Senators Work to Assist Unemployed MRL Workers affected by Smurfit-Stone closure

(Washington D.C.)- Montana’s U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today announced that Montana Rail Link (MRL) workers laid off earlier this year are now eligible for assistance.

Many Montana Rail Link workers were affected by January’s closure of the Smurfit-Stone containerboard plant in Missoula.  The U.S. Department of Labor today approved the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) petition filed by MRL. This allows MRL workers laid off because of the plant’s closure to be eligible for benefits under the TAA program.  TAA benefits include extended unemployment insurance, job training, job search and relocation allowances and a health care tax credit. 

“I am deeply concerned about the ongoing ripple effects of mill closures and Smurfit-Stone Container’s decision to close its Frenchtown plant,” Baucus said.  “Forty-six workers were laid off from MRL as a result.  Today’s decision means those workers and their families will have additional resources to retool and find good paying jobs.”

“The closing of Smurfit-Stone is a painful blow to a lot of Montana families, and Max and I are working hard to see that folks whose lives are turned upside down by the closure have a chance to land on their feet,” Tester said.  “TAA is an important effort to make sure people have the tools and training they need to find new opportunities and to remain a valuable part of Montana’s economy.”
Baucus and Tester will continue to work with state, county and local officials to ensure workers are provided the important information about the TAA program and all other benefits available.  Moving forward, the senators pledged to aggressively look for new opportunities to bring more good paying jobs to the area.

Baucus led the effort to strengthen TAA benefits to ensure robust unemployment aid would be available to Montanans affected by plant closures in today’s struggling economy.  In 2009, as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Baucus spearheaded the most comprehensive expansion and overhaul of the TAA program since 1974, when the program was established.  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included a new and updated TAA program that makes it easier for eligible workers to obtain benefits.  It improves access to training and healthcare and increases funds available for training programs by nearly 160 percent.  For those workers who need to take a lower-paying job right away and can’t take training, TAA gives them a new and improved wage insurance program.

To learn more about this TAA certification and the benefits, Montanans should call the local job service offices.  To find your local workforce office, go to