Harrell pledges aid to displaced workers


First Posted: 12/25/2008

Though he has only six days left in office, state Rep. Jim Harrell is pledging to assist Surry County furniture workers who will lose their jobs next month.
Harrell issued a statement to that effect Tuesday afternoon in the wake of what he describes as the unfortunate announcement of the temporary closure of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co. Inc. in Elkin.
Company officials announced on Dec. 1 that the plant will close effective Jan. 30, putting 400 people out of work. They cited the downturn in the housing market and fewer orders being placed for furniture as the reason.
The upcoming shutdown will represent the largest industrial closure in the towns history. Vaughan-Bassett officials said they plan to hold on to the building, leaving open the possibility that the plant could reopen when the economy improves.
In the meantime, Harrell, who grew up in Elkin, is reaching out to personnel wholl be affected.
The statement from his legislative office in Raleigh stresses that state government, in compliance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, will work with the company to assist the employees involved.
Our office has been assured that the state of North Carolina will make available financial assistance to all affected employees through the Employment Security Administration, Harrell stated. The state of North Carolina will also assist with job-retraining skills through the Community College System.
Harrell, a Democrat now completing his third term in the General Assembly representing Surry and Alleghany counties, was defeated for re-election on Nov. 4 by Republican Sarah Stevens of Mount Airy.
Though his legislative term ends Wednesday, the outgoing lawmaker indicated concern for the furniture workers plight.
Assistance to address these job losses is essential in such a critical economic slowdown, the statement from Harrell reads, which includes an invitation for affected workers to contact him. While my term ends on Dec. 31, I assure you that I will do everything that I can for you and I hope that you will not hesitate to call me personally at 336-363-2898.
Those with questions concerning worker-adjustment and retraining programs can contact the N.C. Department of Commerces Division of Workforce Developments district office at 786-4169. It operates from the Employment Security Commission in Mount Airy.

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