BRENHAM, Texas — Texas officials have asked the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate whether the more than 70 employees who lost their jobs this month at Navisa’s manufacturing plant in Brenham, Texas, are eligible for additional benefits.
The Houston-based hanger manufacturer shuttered the plant abruptly April 2. Employees returning to work that day found the doors locked and a sign on the door blaming “foreign competition” for the closure.
Texas Workforce Solutions — the state employment agency that stepped in to help former Navisa employees find work — has asked the Labor Department to investigate whether the plant closure meets federal requirements for trade adjustment assistance.
Under current free trade agreements, if U.S. workers’ jobs are determined to have been exported overseas, they are entitled to assistance. Former Navisa workers may be able to take advantage of job search and relocation assistance, training, a healthcare tax credit and additional benefits.
“There’s a whole host of services that we can provide to them under this,” Tom Wilkinson Jr., executive director of the Brazos Valley [Texas] Council of Governments, told the Bryan-College Station Eagle. “There are even some wage subsidies for future employers.”
Navisa also may be in violation of federal Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification (WARN) Act provisions demanding 60 days notice of mass layoffs. The company has not returned phone calls or e-mails requesting comment, but is rumored to be operating as Texas Cleaners Supply from Navisa’s former headquarters in Houston.