The U.S. Department of Labor has certified more than 18,000 former Hostess workers around the country, including 572 at its plants in the Buffalo Niagara region and across the rest of New York, as eligible to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance.

An investigation found that an increase in imports of baked products was a significant factor in the closing of Hostess, which made laid off employees eligible for the benefits. Hostess had three locations in Western New York – one in Amherst and two in Cheektowaga.

About 18,000 workers in 48 states from 864 Hostess company locations can apply for benefits that include case management and re-employment services, training in new occupational skills and/or trade readjustment allowances that provide income support for workers enrolled in training. Workers may also receive job search and relocation allowances, and the Health Coverage Tax Credit.

The assistance is open to all eligible workers of all ages, but workers 50 years of age and older may choose to get Re-employment Trade Adjustment Assistance instead, which pays 50 percent of the difference in income, up to $10,000, if the worker receives a new job, earning less than $50,000 and less than wages earned in the trade-impacted position.

Hostess Brands is liquidating after failing to reach an agreement with striking bakers on concessions to help the company emerge from bankruptcy. Earlier this month, Hostess won bankruptcy court approval to hold auctions for brands including Wonder Bread, Twinkies and Drake’s.

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