Published: Feb 19, 2013 10:21 PM EST

WASHINGTON– The U.S. Department of Labor today announced that approximately 18,000 workers laid off in 48 states from 864 Hostess company locations are eligible to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance. 

“As President Obama said in his State of the Union address, ‘to grow our middle class, our citizens must have access to the education and training that today’s jobs require,’ ” said acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris. “Trade Adjustment Assistance enables workers to pursue training in the skills that today’s employers need, contributing not just to a stronger middle class, but to a stronger American economy.”

This TAA certification was based on a Labor Department investigation to determine whether the layoff event met the group eligibility criteria set forth by the Trade Act of 1974. An investigation found that increased imports of baked products contributed importantly to the company’s sales declines and worker separations.

Workers covered by this TAA certification will be contacted by their respective state workforce agencies with instructions on how to apply for individual benefits and services. Those who qualify may receive case management and re-employment services, training in new occupational skills and/or trade readjustment allowances that provide income support for workers enrolled in training. Workers may also receive job search and relocation allowances, and the Health Coverage Tax Credit.

While TAA is open to eligible workers of all ages, workers 50 years of age and older may elect to receive Re-employment Trade Adjustment Assistance instead. If a worker obtains new employment at wages less than $50,000 and less than those earned in the trade-impacted employment, the RTAA program will pay 50 percent of the difference between the old wage and the new wage, up to $10,000 over a two-year period. RTAA participants may also be eligible for retraining and the HCTC.

For more information on TAA and the range of the Department of Labor’s employment and training services, visit http://www.doleta.gov.