Ford issued a press release and dispatched a letter to Governor Don Sundquist. Both documents requested immediate aid -Ñ in the form of measures to facilitate unemployment claims or remove obstacles to such claims -- for the affected Memphis-area workers. The congressman also requested that federal agencies and Congress provide funding for islocated worker assistance.p>The congressman planned a press conference for noon Saturday to comment on the airline relief bill passed Friday by Congress and to elaborate on his own proposals.
The text of the press release and letter follow:
WASHINGTON - In response to Northwest Airlines decision to reduce staffing levels by 10,000 employees, Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN) today announced a multi-faceted effort to help Northwest's Memphis employees who may be impacted by the layoffs.
"The events of last Tuesday are having a ripple effect on the economy and it is imperative that we respond with all available means to help those facing a disruption in their lives," Ford said. "There are several steps that can be taken right away and I will work with Governor Sundquist, Labor Secretary Chao and my congressional colleagues to respond as quickly as possible."
Ford is urging Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist to waive federal labor regulations in order to expedite unemployment assistance for laid-off Northwest employees. Ford is asking Governor Sundquist to consider the following options:
* Waive the one week waiting period to apply for unemployment benefits.
* Back date claims to September 10 to help employees affected by the airport shutdown on September 11
* Eliminate the provision requiring workers to actively seek employment during the layoff period.
In addition, Congressman Ford is urging Labor Secretary Elaine Chao to set aside discretionary dislocated worker assistance funding for affected employees in aviation and related industries.
Ford also contacted House appropriators today seeking legislative language in the FY 2002 Department of Labor funding bill requiring the U.S. Secretary of Labor to make money for dislocated worker assistance available immediately upon the enactment of the legislation. Without such designation, the money cannot be expedited.
On Friday, Northwest Airlines announced it will reduce its service by 20% and will cut its workforce by approximately 10,000 employees. The job cuts, including 9,000 contract and 1,000 management positions will extend to all work groups. Northwest employees 3,000 people at its Memphis hub.
The Honorable Don Sundquist
Governor of Tennessee
Nashville, TN 37243-0001
Dear Governor Sundquist:
I am writing to encourage you to take immediate action to assist workers laid off by Northwest Airlines, and associated industries as a consequence of the tragic events of September 11
.Earlier today Northwest Airlines announced lay offs totaling 10,000 employees in an effort to implement their previously announced 20% service reduction. These job cuts including 9,000 contract and 1,000 management positions will extend to all work groups, and ultimately cause a ripple effect throughout the Memphis area's aviation intensive economy. Already countless caterers, hotels and related industries are being adversely affected
To assist affected workers through this difficult transition, your office can exercise discretionary authority to expedite the availability of unemployment compensation. Available options - some of which were recently exercised by Virginia Governor James Gilmore - include waiving the one week waiting period, back dating claims to September 10, and eliminating the actively seeking work requirement. As you know, these administrative options would have no effect on the state budget.
At the time of this writing, the Congress is still determining the final makeup of an aviation relief package. Wide agreement exists on providing $5 billion dollars of direct aid, $10 billion dollars of long-term loan guarantees, and $3 billion dollars to assist enhanced security measures. Less certain is whether this legislation will include "dislocated worker assistance," a critical provision that would enjoy broad support.
Because aviation is critical to our economy, and Northwest is a crucial partner in our state's economic future, I have actively pushed for these measures. I am committed to pursue these and other means to ensure Tennessee's economic vitality, and I offer my office as a resource to your efforts to confront the challenges presented by last week's despicable acts.
Harold Ford Jr.
Member of Congress <>