Dealing With the Bushmaster Closure

By State Senator Bill Diamond

The recent news that the Bushmaster plant in Windham would soon be closing has hit the area hard. The loss of 73 good paying jobs will have a serious ripple effect on the local economy, and the timing, so close to the holidays, seemed to emphasize the impact of the news.

Instead of giving up, though, the community and the state have rallied around the workers. First I, along with the other members of the Windham Legislative Delegation, Representatives Mark Bryant and Gary Plummer, met with the governor to see what could be done at the state level, and we were pleased when he announced that he would be dispatching a “Rapid Response Team” from the Maine Department of Labor to work with the Bushmaster employees.

Rapid Response teams consist of Maine Department of Labor experts who go to businesses where there are layoffs to help the workers cope with the change and find new work. The Rapid Response Team connects with the workforce to ensure that the displaced workers know about and have access to any and all available services. Rapid Response sessions are held for the workers where they receive information on state and community resources available to workers such as: unemployment benefits, Career Center employment and training services, and health care options. The workers are especially encouraged to work through their local Career Centers as they look for work, where there are personnel who can help them research job openings, training opportunities, and even help them work on their resumes and apply for jobs. I was pleased that the Rapid Response team lived up to their name, and was ready to go almost immediately. The first of several meetings with the workers took place on Dec. 15, and they will continue into next year.

The community is also pulling together to help the workers and the plant. Richard Dyke, who founded Bushmaster and still owns the industrial park that contains the plant, is busy seeking another corporation to occupy the plant. I would especially like to thank Mr. Dyke for his caring and dedication to the employees, many of whom he hired as the previous owner. Even though he currently lives out of Windham, his devotion to his employees is greatly appreciated. Other local businesses have contacted Bushmaster and the Department of Labor about potentially hiring these skilled workers. While the loss of Bushmaster is definitely bad news, by everyone working together I am confident that we can minimize the loss associated with it.

I would like to close by offering you all a wonderful, safe and happy holiday season, and the best of luck in 2011. Please contact me at my office at the State House at 287-1515 or visit my website, www.mainesenate.org/diamond to send me an e-mail if there is anything I can do for you. I’ll be glad to see what I can do.

Senator Bill Diamond is a resident of Windham, and serves the communities of Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, Standish, Windham and Hollis as Senator of District 12.

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