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August 30, 2000

IDES Begins Payments from $7.2 Million Fund to Retrain Workers in Southern Illinois Mine Closings

CHICAGO -- The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) has begun providing funds from a $7.2 million federal grant to provide job training and reemployment assistance for workers who lost their jobs in the recent closing of seven southern Illinois coal mines.

"The services paid for by this grant will give each of these workers the chance to make the occupational changes necessary to remain productive and prosperous," Governor Ryan said. "Services to the affected workers will be provided through the local Illinois Employment and Training Centers (IETC) and will include skills assessments, job search assistance, job development services, occupational skills training, career plan development and supportive services."

The mines, whose customers were almost solely power companies, were closed after the Clean Air Act, Phase II, became effective last January 1. Phase II limits sulfur dioxide emissions from electric generating plants to about half of the previously permissible level. The Clean Air requirements make it certain that the layoffs in mines such as these seven will be permanent.

Affected are former workers at the Peabody Coal Company's mine in Marissa, Illinois, Consolidated Coal Company's Burning Star #4 mine in Cutler, AMAX Delta in Marion, Brushy Creek Coal Company in Galatia and three Arch of Illinois facilities in the Pinckneyville area.

"Retaining is focused on two key factors - occupations that are in high demand and projected to grow during the next few years, and the specific interest, qualifications and needs of each individuals," said Barbara M. Despenza, Executive Director, IDES Workforce Development Bureau. "The first group of former miners to enroll in retraining have selected a diverse mix of occupational fields in which to pursue new careers, including architectural tech, accounting, horticulture, truck-driving, industrial tech, auto collision, heating and air conditioning, computer tech, various other computer-related occupations and criminal justince."

Services will be directly arranged or provided by three Southern Illinois organizations which are IDES partners in the IETC Network and experienced providers of large-scale retraining services. These project operators are the St. Clair County Intergovernmental Grants Department; Management, Training and Counseling Corporation (MAN-TRA-CON); and the Southern 14 Workforce Investment Board, Inc.

IDES will administer the grant and monitor the provision of services to the trainees. IDES' Bureau of Workforce Development prepared the grant application while participating in the initial services of the state's Rapid Response Team in the anticipated closings. Working with the company and the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), the Rapid Response Team conducted pre-layoff workshops for the workers, surveyed individual workers to learn their other occupational experiences and interests, and advised workers how to apply for dislocated worker aid.

Workers affected by the closing live in the counties of Alexander, Christian, Clinton Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Massac, Monroe, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, St. Clair, Union, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, White, and Williamson.


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