Benchmarks of Success Issue 11, June 2019

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Monthly Newsletter  -  Issue 11, June 2019

Helping Those in Path of Layoff

Verso 1

Maryland Department of Labor Responds Quickly to Assist Employees Impacted by the Verso Company Paper Mill Shutdown


When the April 30, 2019 news broke that Verso Paper Mill Company—located in Luke, Maryland (a small town in Allegany County)—was permanently closing its operations of more than 130 years, Maryland Department of Labor jumped into action. It immediately mobilized its Rapid Response team comprised of Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning (DWDAL) and Division of Unemployment Insurance (DUI) staff to coordinate activities and provide services to help the dislocated workers, including their contract employees and partners.

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) of 1988 requires employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs. Once Maryland Department of Labor learns of a plant closing and an impending layoff, Rapid Response is initiated to provide essential support resources aimed to assist workers, their families, and communities.

Verso 2

In compliance with WARN, 675 Verso employees spread across Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia were notified in advance regarding their last day of work and closure of the facility expected to be completed by June 30, 2019.

To respond to the shutdown, Maryland Department of Labor held two initial Rapid Response sessions for employees on May 14, 2019, 10:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., at the Bruce Community Outreach Center in Westernport, Maryland. The sessions lasted one hour with 500+ total attendees. DWDAL and DUI, along with other state and local entities, participated by providing information and addressing various questions.

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In addition to the Rapid Response sessions, a Job Fair was also held the same day from 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. Over 70 employers were present and 30 Maryland and West Virginia state agencies attended the event to assist employees affected by the shutdown.

On Friday, May 31, production activities stopped at the paper mill plant and DUI began taking unemployment insurance claims in-person. DUI also established a dedicated phone line exclusively for all Verso employees to call Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. for claims and benefits information.

Every Friday until the end of June, DUI will be onsite at Verso Paper Mill plant to continue taking claims in-person and answer any unemployment insurance related questions. Additional Rapid Response sessions and another career recruitment events took place on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, again at the Bruce Outreach Center with over 150 attending the Rapid Response sessions and another 200+ jobseekers attending the recruitment event where 51 employers and 35 service providers participated.

A resource event for Verso closure affected workers is planned for Tuesday, June 25, 2019, in Garrett County at Garrett College in McHenry, MD.

Maryland Department of Labor has had an outpouring of support at every level from both Maryland and West Virginia agencies and community organizations.  Local county government has created a website – – dedicated to Verso and has played a vital role in disseminating information regarding upcoming events and resources directly to the workers who have registered through this site.

Maryland Department of Labor will continue working with Verso employees to assist them in taking full advantage of all available support resources.



Quick Resources

Benchmarks of Success Resource Page

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Resource Page

Maryland’s State Combined Workforce Plan


2019 Newsletter Issue Dates

7/17, 8/21, 9/18, 10/16, 11/20, 12/1


Benchmarks of Success New Collateral

Download and share the new Benchmarks of Success two-sided flyer!

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A Success Story

Woodrow Gets the Training He Needs to Keep Him Employed for Years to Come.

Woodrow came to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program after working with an employer for 13 years as an auto glass technician. Woodrow earned a good salary but was without any industry-wide credentials. He lost his job in 2018 and was worried about his ability to make a similar, livable wage because of his narrowly-focused skill set.



Workforce Partners

Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation                        Maryland Department of Human Services

Maryland State Department of Education                                                Governor's Workforce Development Board

Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development                            Maryland Workforce Association

Did You Know...?

Maryland's Latest Workforce Development Updates

Through inter-agency collaboration, the Hogan administration continues its innovative approach to offering services by providing both employers and employees with the opportunity to improve their performance and thrive in Maryland.


Benchmarks of Success Newsletters


Benchmarks of Success Committee Updates

  • Five Benchmarks of Success committees are hard at work... 

    • Executive Steering - provides strategic leadership for the rollout and implementation of the Benchmarks initiative - meets quarterly
    • WIOA Alignment - oversees and coordinates the activities of the Benchmarks committees - meets monthly
    • Data and Dashboard - creates a sustainable system supporting local areas in utilizing the Benchmarks to continuously improve the quality of their service delivery - continues to develop the scorecard
    • Communications - promotes the Benchmarks statewide and educates local workforce areas on the value, implementation, and outcomes of the initiative - has developed the two-sided informational flyer
    • Policy - identifies opportunities which support the Benchmarks implementation via policy changes - is reconvening under new leadership

    ...providing strategic planning and organizational infrastructure to ensure successful implementation of the Benchmarks leadership tool.


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Benchmarks of Success Video Series

July 2018

Introductory Video

Featured Guests: Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Secretary Kelly M. Schulz; Maryland State Department of Education Superintendent of Schools Karen B. Salmon, Ph.D.; Department of Human Services Secretary Lourdes R. Padilla; and Governor's Workforce Development Board Executive Director Michael R. DiGiacomo.

August 2018

Targeted Audience: Management/Frontline Staff/Partners - Parts One, Two and Three

Featured Guest: Secretary Lourdes R. Padilla, Maryland Department of Human Services

September 2018

Targeted Audience: CEOs/Boards/Privates/Non-Profits - Parts One and Two

Featured Guest: Board Chair Louis M. Dubin, Governor's Workforce Development Board

October 2018

Targeted Audience: Jobseekers/General Public

Featured Guest: State Superintendent Karen B. Salmon, Maryland State Department of Education

November 2018

Targeted Audience: Employers

Featured Guest: Secretary Kelly M. Schulz, Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation

December 2018

Targeted Audience: Elected Officials - Federal, State and Local - Parts One, Two and Three

Featured Guest: Secretary Kelly M. Schulz, Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation