PLAINVIEW, Texas – Former employees of the Cargill beef-processing plant in Plainview still need helpafter being laid off in February 2013, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers International (UFCW).

The UFCW petitioned the Department of Labor under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, which provides benefits and services to workers who have lost their jobs as a result of foreign trade. The Plainview plant produced boxed beef; tissue pallets; offal; grease; hides; and rendering products, such as tallow, bone meal and blood meal. The UFCW's research shows that the United States increased foreign imports of these products by $99.7 million in the 12 months beforeCargill idled the plant. Additionally, severe and persistent drought conditions forced beef packers to import more beef to keep processing plants running at full capacity, the union said.

“So, we are now petitioning the Department of Labor with this information,” said Johnny Rodriguez, president of UFCW Local 540. “We believe that the petition will convince the Department to initiate a further investigation to determine whether these increased imports caused the Plainview plant to lose enough sales to contribute to the plant’s shutdown,” Rodriguez added. “If the Department determines that imports contributed importantly to the plant closure, then the workers will become eligible for substantial benefits under the Trade Assistance Program.”

Cargill decided to idle the plant because of tight supplies of cattle. Cattle that were previously destined for the Plainview facility were redirected to Cargill's remaining beef processing plants in Friona, Texas; Dodge City, Kan. and Fort Morgan, Colo. More than 2,000 workers were affected by the plant closure.