The 300 employees laid off from the Verso paper mill in Jay are seeking federal job retraining assistance.

An application for federal Trade Adjustment Assistance was submitted on Sept. 2 on behalf of the former Verso employees by a member of the Maine Department of Labor.

Trade Adjustment Assistance is provided to employees who lose their jobs as a result of foreign competition. If the federal Department of Labor approves the application, the 300 former Verso employees would receive financial assistance and job retraining services.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Rep. Bruce Poliquin sent a letter on Wednesday urging Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to quickly approve the petition.

“Shrinking demand attributable to foreign competition is forcing Verso Paper Corp. to scale back its annual production of coated paper and, consequently, its workforce,” the letter reads. “Given the rural location of the Jay mill and the closures in recent years of other paper mills in the region, the laid-off workers face an enormous hurdle in identifying and securing alternative employment. Many may require retraining for other emerging occupations, making it crucial that these workers receive certification under the TAA program.”

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