USVI oil refinery layoffs trigger emergency funding from US
Over US$7 million in emergency funding has been earmarked for the United States Virgin Islands in the wake of the Hovensa refinery mass layoffs.
ST CROIX, US Virgin Islands, Thursday, May 17, 2012 - Three months after 1,158 workers were put on the breadline with the closure of the Hovensa oil refinery on St. Croix, the United States Department of Labor has earmarked US$7,842,250 to assist the displaced workers.
The department announced this week that a National Emergency Grant had been made to USVI to assist the affected workers after Hovensa, the largest private employer in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and largest oil refinery in the Caribbean, ceased its refining operations mid-February.
Of the US$7,842,250, US$3,631,937 will be released initially. Additional funding up to the amount approved will be made available as the territory demonstrates a continued need for assistance.
“The Hovensa refinery’s closure was a significant blow to many workers as well as the community at large,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “The federal funding announced today will provide re-employment services to help individuals impacted by the layoffs find good jobs in high-growth industries.”
The layoffs of 1,158 workers employed directly by Hovensa was compounded by the layoffs of many more employed by 17 of the company’s contractors.
“Today’s announcement reflects the Labor Department’s commitment to address the effects of Hovensa’s closure on the St. Croix community and the federal interagency collaboration needed to address the challenges faced by all U.S. territories,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, whose assistant secretary for insular affairs, Tony Babauta, co-chairs with the White House the Interagency Group on Insular Areas. The group is working closely with U.S. Virgin Islands leaders and the St. Croix community to rebuild their economy and develop a sound way forward.
This grant, awarded to the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Labor, will be used to prepare dislocated workers for employment in demand-driven occupations with portable and transferrable credentials.
National Emergency Grants are part of the secretary of labor’s discretionary fund and are awarded based on the ability of a state or territory to meet specific guidelines.