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Labor Dept. awards $15M grant to help displaced space workers

By Ed O'Keefe

The Labor Department issued a $15 million grant on Tuesday for about 3,200 contractors slated to lose their jobs later this year when work ends on NASA's space shuttle program.

The money will provide workers with career guidance, job training, and continuing education programs, according to the Labor Department. The grant supplements a $40 million jobs training program introduced by President Obama in April.

“These hard-working Americans need and deserve our support, and I am pleased that this grant will allow them to upgrade their skills further and gain access to work opportunities in high-demand industries," Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said during an appearance at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Solis can issue National Emergency Grants at her discretion based on a state's response to significant economic events.

Obama's decision to scrap NASA's planned return to the Moon and refocus the agency's mission has earned little support in the Sunshine State, where the seasonally adjusted jobless rate was 12 percent in April -- much higher than the national 9.9 percent average. Overall, the end of the Space Shuttle program could lead to 20,000 layoffs, with most of them in Brevard County, Fla., the Labor Department said.

Most of the workers supported by the new Labor Department grant are employed by ASRC Aerospace Corp., Boeing and United Space Alliance.

The plans also earned a sharp rebuke from the first man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, who made a rare public appearance to criticize the president's decision. But other astronauts, including Buzz Aldrin and Sally Ride, support Obama's changes.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | June 2, 2010; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Workplace Issues  
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30 years of spending on this useless program is not enough. It must continue after the program is over. Send them home with pensions and be done with it.

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 2, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

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