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Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and Governor Gary Locke today sent a letter to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao asking her to immediately extend the National Emergency Grant to Boeing workers who will be laid off as a result of last week's terrorist attacks.

The National Emergency Grant is issued at the Secretary's discretion in response to an immediate labor or employment crisis. The grant provides states flexibility in assisting displaced workers and could be used to fund training and re-employment centers and direct training costs for workers at community colleges. In some cases, the grant can supplement the unemployment income benefit. Boeing workers who were laid off in 1999 and 2000 received benefits funded by the National Emergency Grant. The grant will expire on September 30, 2001, unless it is extended.

"The terrorist attacks have created a significant ripple effect through our economy. Unless we provide affected workers with relief we will face economic upheaval," Cantwell said. "The National Emergency Grant is a critical step in helping our workforce, and ultimately our economy."

"Last week's attacks dealt a serious blow to both our sense of security and our economy. As we work to support our airlines – the hardest hit industry – we cannot forget about the thousands of workers and their families who desperately need our support," Senator Murray said. "These emergency grants are an immediate step we can and must take to help our workers."

The text of the letter follows:

September 20, 2001

The Honorable Elaine L. Chao
United States Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue NW
Washington D.C. 20210


Dear Secretary Chao:

We know you share our concern that The Boeing Company has announced plans to lay off up to 30,000 workers from its commercial airplane division by the end of next year. This layoff notice is a direct result of last week's unspeakable acts of terrorism against the United States.

The Boeing Company is a pillar of the aircraft-manufacturing industry in our country, and is critical to our nation's security and economy. We are writing to request your assistance for its many workers who will be displaced.

In response to Boeing layoffs in 1999 and 2000, the U.S. Department of Labor approved a National Emergency Grant, which has been indispensable in providing flexible support to Boeing, its workers and the community colleges and training centers that serve them. It has kept one-stop centers open, ensured the availability of critical services, and facilitated an excellent partnership between the public and private sectors.

Unfortunately, the existing National Emergency Grant expires on September 30, 2001. This could not happen at a worse time. We urge you to immediately extend and provide the necessary funding for this program so that displaced Boeing workers can obtain the necessary skills and income support to help them through this difficult period.

We support the Administration's efforts to aid the commercial aviation industry, and we look forward to working with you on providing assistance for the thousands of workers who are affected by this crisis. Please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.

Sincerely,

Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, Gov. Gary Locke