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December 3, 2008

Governor Blagojevich Deploys Rapid Response Team to Aid Affected U.S. Steel Workers
Team to assist workers and connect them with the best services possible during transitional period

SPRINGFIELD – Providing immediate access to worker dislocation services, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich deployed the Illinois Rapid Response team to aid workers impacted by United States Steel Corporation’s (U.S. Steel) announcement to temporarily close its facility in Granite City, IL.  The Rapid Response team makes services such as unemployment insurance information, job training opportunities and labor market information available to affected workers.


“As the nation’s economic challenges weigh heavily on Illinois – and specifically on Granite City – I’ve sent Illinois’ Rapid Response team to help these workers and their families through this period of time,” said Governor Blagojevich.  “I encourage workers to take advantage of the wide array of resources that the Rapid Response team can provide to help them put food on the table and prepare for future employment.”


The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the Local Workforce Investment Area have been working closely with U.S. Steel officials and employees for the past month to minimize the impacts of the facility’s temporary closure.  Rapid Response workshops were provided to the company to make sure the company understands its obligations and is committed to helping its employees through the process.


“Our Rapid Response team is on the ground assisting the workers impacted by U.S. Steel’s recent announcement, offering programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, All Kids, and Illinois workNet to assist workers during these difficult times,” said Jack Lavin, DCEO director. “It is crucial to connect these workers with the right services to maintain and support a strong, skilled, well-trained workforce.”


In addition to working with the company and assisting the workers affected by the most recent layoff, the Rapid Response team connected approximately 90 U.S. Steel employees impacted from the earlier November layoff with services to ease the affects of that transition. In addition, Rapid Response team members worked with the affected workers to develop a customized plan to ensure they receive the best services possible based on individual needs.


The DCEO Regional Workforce Management Division, in conjunction with the Special Projects Division of the Bureau of Workforce Development, administers the State of Illinois' rapid response mass layoff assistance programs by allocating federal job training funds to local Illinois workNet Centers.  Local Workforce Investment Area staff at these offices provide core, intensive and training services to improve the long-term employment outcomes for individuals receiving assistance. The dislocated worker program is available in 26 Local Workforce Investment Areas throughout Illinois.


The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) will also make special efforts to serve the affected workers, answer questions regarding unemployment insurance and aid in the filing of unemployment insurance claims.  Workers who have been impacted can visit the IDES website at www.ides.state.il.us to file for benefits and to begin receiving much needed funds quickly.


“The national economy has made it difficult for thousands of our workers and business owners. We want to make it easier for everyone to receive the insurance benefits they earned,” said Maureen O’Donnell, IDES director.  “The website is a fast, safe and convenient way to file for unemployment benefits that workers will need during this time.”


U.S. Steel’s Granite City Works facility is one of three facilities the company will temporarily idle to respond to current market conditions and further consolidate its operations.


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