The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 21, 2012

Coal workers eligible for benefits

The Tribune-Democrat

— The state Department of Labor & Industry announced Wednesday that furloughed employees of PBS Coals Inc. of Stoystown and related workers are now eligible to apply for federal Trade Adjustment Assistance benefits.

The eligibility also covers on-site leased workers from David Stanley Consultants and Strata Mine Services Inc., and affected workers of RoxCoal Inc.

PBS Coals announced in July that it would idle some of its mines and lay off 225 workers because of softening demand for coal and tightening U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

In making the workers eligible, the federal Department of Labor certifies that they have been impacted by foreign imports or shifts in production to foreign countries.

The TAA benefits under this certification are available to eligible workers who are threatened with separation, loss of jobs or have reduced work hours during the period Aug. 6, 2011, through Oct. 16, 2014.

PBS Coals employees are certified as “adversely affected” because a significant number or proportion of the workers are laid off, experiencing a reduction in hours or are threatened with such layoffs or reductions, the state Department of Labor & Industry said.

Benefits include funded training, cash income support, job-search and relocation assistance, and transportation and subsistence allowances. A federal Health Coverage Tax Credit also is available to assist with health-insurance premiums.

People 50 or older who obtain new employment at a lower salary may be eligible to receive cash benefits known as Re-employment Trade Adjustment Assistance.

Applications for TAA program benefits can be filed through the Unemployment Compensation Service Center by calling (888) 313-7284 or at a local PA CareerLink office.