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Easley Meets With Former Pillowtex Employees

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KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — Gov. Mike Easley met Monday with his Rapid Response Team, local officials and former Pillowtex workers in Kannapolis.

Easley announced a health care insurance program, offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina that will provide guaranteed coverage to all individuals who lost their jobs as a result of the federal trade policies.

"I am proud to announce this product today to help the employees of Pillowtex and other hard-working citizens across the state who have lost their jobs," said Easley. "Qualified workers and retirees will have help in paying for quality health insurance."

The Employment Security Commission estimates that over 6,000 North Carolina workers qualify for the assistance. The federal government will pay for 65 percent of the premium cost directly to the company. The product will begin once COBRA benefits expire.

In addition, Easley solicited nearly $350,000 in commitments from North Carolina companies for emergency needs in the communities impacted by these layoffs.

"Federal trade policies are devastating North Carolina's textile and manufacturing industries," Easley said. "Pillowtex is just the most recent and the most visible example. In one day, 5,000 people were laid off. People are suffering, families are struggling and entire communities are under stress.

"North Carolina is well-prepared to deal with natural disasters. But these economic disasters can be avoided," he said. "As we have done in the past, we will pull together and get through this difficult time and press Washington to alter federal trade policies."

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