Assistance sought for displaced White Pine workers

ONTONAGON — The County Board adopted a resolution asking the U.S. Department of Labor allow former White Pine Electric Power employees to apply for federal benefits.

“They should help us when they can,” Commissioner Gray Webber said at Tuesday’s meeting.

The power company employees ultimately lost their jobs as part of the state’s establishment of the Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. that went into effect Jan. 1.

“Ontonagon County supports the displaced workers at White Pine Electric Power LLC receiving assistance with training for a new job, financial help in making a job search in other areas, or relocation to an area where jobs are more plentiful, covered through Trade Readjustment Allowances,” according to the adopted resolution. “Ontonagon County hereby requests the Department of Labor reconsider the decision to deny eligibility to apply for Worker Adjustment Assistance to impacted workers at the White Pine Electric Power LLC, and provide Trade Readjustment Allowances to the workers impacted by the plant’s closing.”

According to the resolution, the Federal Trade Act provides benefits to people who lost jobs “because their employer adversely affected by increased imports from other countries. An improved transmission grid has resulted in much of the local power capacity to be served by Manitoba Hydro out of Canada and… the increased transmission capacity has allowed the foreign generator to service loads within the United States of America.”