Dislocated mill workers have an array of benefits post lay-off

Mar. 15—A rapid response effort is being launched to inform displaced mill workers on their options after their job ends at Pactiv Evergreen.

Haywood Community College has set up a comprehensive website to serve as a clearinghouse of information for displaced mill workers at www.haywood.edu/evergreen.

By the end of April, a team of experts will be able to meet onsite with about 80 mill employees at a time. They will individually answer any questions an employee might have and provide an individualized information packet, according to David Garrett, who works with the Southwest Commission Workforce Development Board.

The packets will contain information such as:

—The company's severance package, which under the union master agreement, must be a minimum of one week's pay for each year of employment.

—Unemployment benefits available in North Carolina, which are a maximum of $350 for 12 weeks.

—Career training opportunities at Haywood Community College that come with a $1,000 scholarship.

—A wage supplement that could be up to $10,000 for certain programs.

—Mortgage assistance that could defer payments for six months and simply tack those months on the end of the payment schedule.

—Health insurance options.

—A skills assessment for those interested, help with resumes and job applications, and upcoming job fairs.

—Information on mental health services, including a behavioral health confidential crisis line, 800-849-6127.

Garrett's colleague, Linda Lamp, stressed that these benefits are only available to those who are still working after Pactiv Evergreen officially notifies the state of its pending closure. Those who leave prior to that will not be eligible.

Estimates from the company are that 5% of the workforce is 65 and older; 18% are between the age of 60 and 65 while about a third of the workforce at the mill is under age 40.

The Haywood County Chamber of Commerce and Haywood County government are commissioning an economic impact survey to narrow gauge the ripple effect of the mill's closure.

Knowing this information will put the community in a better position to plan for what's next, said David Francis, the county's economic and community development director.

Businesses that believe they will feel the sting of the mill's closure are invited to participate at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PEImpact2023.

Those who have lost employment as a result of a ripple effect from the mill's pending closure are also encouraged to contact NC Works at 828-456-6061 to learn about available programs.