Federal aid to help 570 K-C mill employees find work

EVERETT — Hundreds of mill workers who lost their jobs at Kimberly-Clark are about to get more help finding new work.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Thursday approval of a $1.79 million workforce emergency grant to provide assistance to Kimberly-Clark workers trying to find new jobs. The grant is expected to help 570 workers.

More than 700 people lost their jobs, many right around the holidays, after Kimberly-Clark announced it would shut down its pulp and paper operations in Everett. The last of the workers are expected to clock out Sunday.

The money will go mainly toward hiring staff who will work individually with displaced employees, helping them find jobs, education and other support services, said Sue Ambler, director of the Workforce Development Council of Snohomish County.

Some of the money also is slated for short-term help with extras such as paying bills and gas to drive to job interviews, she said. Workers affected by the mill shutdown can contact their peer support representative or the Everett Workforce office for help.

The council applied for the grant in January. Usually, emergency federal grants can take up to 10 months to be awarded. Ambler credited the fast turnaround to pushing by politicians.

The grant approval comes after a letter was sent to the Department of Labor by Sen. Maria Cantwell, Sen. Patty Murray, U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, and U.S. Rep. Adam Smith calling for approval of emergency assistance for Kimberly-Clark workers in Everett.

The Washington delegation asked for the Department of Labor to make a quick decision on the Snohomish County Workforce Development Council’s application for a Workforce Investment Act Dual-Enrollment National Emergency Grant.

“With the closure of this plant came the loss of hundreds of family wage jobs in the community — jobs that have employed generations of families for 80 years,” Cantwell said. “This emergency workforce assistance will help these workers get back on their feet as they transition to new employment.”

The emergency grants are hard to come by, Larsen said. The sheer number of people laid off played a big role in the grant’s approval.

“This is a bitter-sweet victory,” he said. “The only reason we’re applying for the grant was because Kimberly-Clark chose to close this facility. The men and women who worked there deserve better.”

Kimberly-Clark workers already are receiving trade adjustment assistance, which pays for job training, job searches, health insurance and unemployment benefits.

Ambler estimates around 100 employees have found new work. As a group, they are highly skilled, she said. The challenge remains finding work that pays as well as the mill. She said the median salary at Kimberly Clark was $68,000.

Meanwhile, Kimberly Clark said it’s already had interest from potential buyers, said company spokesman Bob Brand. It’s too early in the process to provide more details, he said.

One of those suitors has made vocal pitches to city leaders. Representatives for a company based in Dayton, Tenn., called Energex Production Co., approached city leaders at public meetings.

The company would like to set up a biofuel plant, said Tom Senenfelder, who said he’s about to take over as chief executive for the company.

Little information is available to the public about Energex, which is not connected with separate companies of the same name in Florida, Pennsylvania and overseas.

Reporter Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or dsmith@heraldnet.com.

More in Herald Business Journal

Amazon lists 20 finalists for HQ2, and no, we aren’t on it

Los Angeles was the only West Coast city listed. They seem to like the nation’s capital.

Exotic animals find compassionate care in Bothell (video)

At the Center for Bird and Exotic Animal Medicine, vets treat snakes, hedgehogs and even kangaroos.

Don’t take economic forecasts to the bank — or the casino

Air travel delays could spur a rebirth of passenger rail service.

Emirates orders 20 more Airbus A380 jumbos, saving program

The Dubai carrier also has options to buy 16 more. The program seems safe until 2029.

How do you retrieve an errant Boeing 737 from a muddy slope?

Turkish authorities used cranes to lift a plane that skidded off a runway.

Amanda Strong (left) tries on an Angel of the Winds Arena hat as she and Courtney Brown hand out gift bags after the renaming ceremony Dec. 13 in Everett. The new name replaces the Xfinity name. (Andy Bronson / Her file)
Angel of the Winds to break ground on $60M casino expansion

“We think we’re on the cusp of becoming a major resort.”

House passes bill aimed at lowering gender wage gap

The bill would hinder employers from retaliating against female workers who ask about others’ pay.

Planemaker joins forces with auto-industry supplier Adient

The new venture poses a threat to Zodiac Aerospace and Rockwell Collins

In this Dec. 20, 2017, photo, a clerk reaches to a shelf to pick an item for a customer order at the Amazon Prime warehouse, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Amazon’s potential HQ2 sites leaves many cities disappointed

Associated Press Amazon’s move to whittle its list for a second headquarters… Continue reading

Most Read