Ventura OKs extra benefits

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Gov. Jesse Ventura Tuesday signed a bill that authorizes a 26-week extension of unemployment benefits for Farmland employees who were laid off after the Albert Lea plant burned last July.

The federal government has already implemented a 13-week extension in its economic stimulus package, which covers the Farmland workers. The state provision will supplement the compensation, adding another 13-week payment.

The enactment of the bill will provide some relief for the displaced workers who have been waiting for Farmland to carry out its announcement that it will resume operations in Albert Lea next year.

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According to a survey by the Minnesota Workforce Center, 200 ex-Farmland employees are still unemployed.

The bill provides the same remedies to airline workers laid off after Sept. 11 and Fingerhut workers out of a job since Jan. 1.

&uot;I could not be more excited for our local families,&uot; Sen. Grace Schwab said. &uot;I deeply appreciate the governor supporting our efforts to protect our economy and help workers stay on their feet after this tragedy. We are doing everything possible to keep our heads above water and rebuild our economic stability, but we needed this assistance from the state.&uot;

Farmland has said it will rebuild in Albert Lea as long as it receives state economic incentives and a favorable insurance settlement. The state budget bill signed by Ventura this week includes the economic incentives.