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Edwards, Dole Pledge Immediate Assistance For Pillowtex Employees

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. John Edwards on Wednesday launched a series of actions, including a request for $38 million in emergency economic relief, to help nearly 5,000


workers thrown out of jobs and to aid communities where plants are being shuttered.

Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Dole also bemoaned the fate of the employees left without work when the company decided Wednesday to shut down 16 plants.

"This is a very sad day for our state -- especially the counties of Cabarrus, Rockingham and Rowan," Dole said, "and devastating for these workers and their families, who depended on this company for their livelihood.

"I have established an additional Senate office to be temporarily opened in downtown Kannapolis to assist the workers and help them get the answers they need to questions about health care and health insurance, unemployment benefits, job retraining and other matters. For displaced workers in Rowan County, my Salisbury office is able to assist you as well."

Dole said the most important plan of action following Wednesday's closings is to bring new jobs into the state "and help our workers get the training to acquire the skills for those jobs.

"This is my focus every day," she said, "trying to bring more jobs to our state and working to ensure that North Carolina has the infrastructure, facilities and federal assistance to attract industry and create new jobs for the workers suffering through this economic transition. I will continue to fight for our North Carolina textile and manufacturing jobs and work to bring new jobs in growing industries to our state."

Edwards also created a North Carolina task force of federal, state and local officials to coordinate assistance to workers and the communities. He mobilized his state director and regional representatives to work with employees and local officials, and he called Gov. Mike Easley to pledge his support for state efforts to weather the economic disaster.

Edwards called on the Labor Department to provide $18.5 million in emergency grants to help former Pillowtex workers support their families, enroll in training programs and find new jobs. He renewed support for another $19.5 million emergency grant sought by North Carolina on June 23 to provide health coverage for thousands of workers already displaced by trade practices.

In addition, Edwards urged the Labor Department to expedite the six-week process for determining that Pillowtex workers who need help now qualify for trade adjustment assistance.

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