Thread: Birds Eye Plant
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- 12-24-2006, 09:53 AM #1
Birds Eye Plant
http://www.americaneconomicalert.com/ne ... ID=2407700
Third wave of layoffs hits Birds Eye plant
By James Hohmann
Aug. 10: Chill descends as jobs vanish
The Birds Eye frozen-food factory in Watsonville was the kind of place where workers would arrive an hour or two before their shifts to sip coffee and talk with friends in the cafeteria.
It was more than a place to work. It was a home. The workers were family.
Now, it's Christmastime and the plant on Harvest Drive is closing, taking 550 jobs with it. About 200 workers have already left the factory. Twenty more will lose jobs today.
``It's a different time,'' said Maria Sanchez, 58, who has been slicing, dicing and packaging spinach, broccoli and cauliflower for 29 years. ``This has been my company. I've been happy here. Now I'm going.''
Inside the plant, workers say, the reaction has been a mixture of fear, sadness and acceptance. As the nation's frozen-food industry and high-paying factory jobs disappear, the workers are faced with the daunting challenge of finding steady jobs and acquiring the skills necessary to compete in today's economy.
The company threw a goodbye party for the workers Dec. 8. Salsa music from a hired band pulsated through the drab industrial park, as a local Mexican eatery catered a final dinner. Decorations and poinsettias were handed out to workers, still wearing the blue smocks and green hard hats of their shifts.
Workers at the Birds Eye factory in Watsonville earn $10 to $22 an hour -- roughly 10 times more than those doing comparable work in Mexico and Central America. The average employee has worked at the plant for 16 years.
Most are Latino immigrants who speak some English. Many are losing high-paying, relatively low-skill jobs. Watsonville's unemployment rate in October -- before the layoffs began -- was 8.6 percent. The 550 jobs represent 2.6 percent of the city's labor force. (Legal or Illegal??)
Birds Eye workers were notified July 25 that the factory would close by the end of the year. But few have arranged for new jobs.
``A big positive for these workers is that employers hiring them will be getting people that have a good work history and work ethic,'' said Janeen Dittrick, a manager at the state Employment Development Department in Santa Cruz County.
The layoffs could not come at a worse time, said Rito Mendoza, 48, a maintenance worker who has been at the plant for 17 years. It's too late to be hired as a seasonal worker at Kmart, Target or other retailers looking for holiday help -- and farmers aren't looking for help in the fields.``During December, January, February and March, there are no jobs in agriculture,'' Mendoza said, while smoking a cigarette in the pelting rain and frigid night air after his shift ended. ``There is nothing to harvest.''
Local government and the Teamsters union, which represents the workers, have mobilized to help those being laid off cope and readjust. Career centers and retraining programs are available. Specialists have been invited into the factory to help workers set up e-mail accounts and fill out job applications.
But workers with bills to pay face hard choices.
Zeraida Calderon, who has worked on the assembly line in the factory for 21 years, would like to go to school and become a bookkeeper or typist. But to take care of her young boy and girl, the single mother expects to take a job in retail -- if she can find one.
``The unemployment benefits help for now, but they are not going to be there in the future,'' said Calderon, who will lose her job three days before Christmas.
Marcela Tavantzis, Watsonville's assistant city manager, said many of the workers are losing ``their opportunity for retraining in order to accept a $10-an-hour job, even though retraining could give them a better job.''
But Emily Balli, career center manager for Workforce Santa Cruz County, a program that helps residents find jobs, said her office is being flexible to help ensure those who land jobs get training.
``We understand that they have to go out and probably get jobs quickly,'' she said. ``To live in this area and have the luxury to go to training full time is not very realistic.''
When Balli's staff was deployed, they had workers fill out a survey to assess their needs. Many expressed interest in becoming certified nurse assistants, truck drivers and landscapers.
About 40 percent said they were interested in classroom training; 30 percent said they would like to learn office skills. And most said they wanted to learn English.
The company has asked the U.S. government to certify the plant is closing because of increased foreign imports. The Labor Department is considering the request, which would provide extra weeks of unemployment benefits.
Watsonville also has been declared an ``enterprise zone'' by the state, which gives companies tax breaks for moving to the city or hiring laid-off employees.
Santa Cruz County's Workforce Investment Board has been trying to get a special grant from the state Labor & Workforce Development Agency. And the state's secretary of labor is considering a request for $1.3 million over 18 months to help with training.
More than 100 people were let go Nov. 29. An additional 99 were terminated Dec. 13. And more than 20 will be laid off today. The rest will leave as the last of the vegetables from the region's farms are processed. By the end of the year, only a few supervisors and salvagers will remain.
Said Aurelio Campos, 47, whose last day is today: ``Every time you look around, another group is missing.''
Contact James Hohmann at email@example.com or (408) 920-5460.
So, with globalization, tax payers lose their jobs here, pay taxes for unemployment to laid off workers, then tax payers pay for additional education....and globalization is supposed to be good for us?????Do not vote for Party this year, vote for America and American workers!
- 12-24-2006, 10:16 AM #2
Isn't it amazing that only now that many of them are becoming unemployed do they want to learn English. They had alot more opportunities to learn for free. There are various classes availible and they can always get computer programs or cassette tapes or CDs you can buy. If there were a few of them that were interested they could have pitched in money, bought the instructional material and took turns using it. Where there is a will there is a way.
- 12-24-2006, 11:00 AM #3Originally Posted by swatchick
La Raza, The Ford Foundation, The Kellog Foundation, The United Way and others seem awash in millions upon millions of dollars to help out poor Hispanics.
But where is this money? Is it really going towards "political" expenses (big office buildings, cars, "junkets" to anti-American conferences) rather than the poor people themselves?
- 12-24-2006, 11:13 AM #4
Yet, it's we, the taxpayers that are getting hit either way we turn!
The government knew we would lose our jobs with globalization, that's why they funded programs to teach "us" to learn new skills....taxes going out for this, for unemployment, to teach English....it never ends...but let's allow China, India, etc. to have our jobs so they can pay cents on the hour to their workers, and bring back their products at the same high price they were, when American's made them.
With labor, materials it costs $3.00 to make a Bratz doll, but it's sold here for over $15!
And business still cry for new Visa workers and guest workers...!
I just heard from family, that Airstream has cut back. Our brother-in-law works there and is down to 3 days...he's been there for years...they are worried as to what may come.
So, with all these plant closings, lay offs, just where does our government think illegals and new immigrants will work? Seems they are only concerned with foreigners, cause they sure aren't wondering where we will work!Do not vote for Party this year, vote for America and American workers!
- 12-24-2006, 12:40 PM #5
So, with all these plant closings, lay offs, just where does our government think illegals and new immigrants will work? Seems they are only concerned with foreigners, cause they sure aren't wondering where we will work!
The massive influx of illegal immigration we're experiencing is a direct result of designed policies that supposedly make us competitive in a global economy. In other words, it's all part of the Bush administrations plan as it was Clinton's and the former Bush's. The plan has been 18 years in the development and implementation stage. :x
Unfortunately the maddening influx of legal foreigners and illegal immigrants will only act against us in future elections. Sure, illegals can't vote, but they can certainly influence through special interest groups. In the years to come we will see more and more open border/global economy/foreign born politicians elected to public office. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying their is anything wrong with legal immigration, but it has to be done responsibly and at a level that can be managed appropriately. In other words, we need only accept an amount that can be properly assimiliated into our culture. Currently I'm not sure that is the case. If things don't start changing quick, we're certainly doomed to suffer because of failed policies.
There, now you have my gloom & doom forecast for the next century! 8O"Too bad ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation." Henry Kissinger
- 12-24-2006, 01:03 PM #6
There are many free classes availible to people to learn English you just have to desire to do so. When my parents and grandparents immigrated to Canada after WWII there were no free English classes. They had to learn at owkr and watching TV or they paid to take English classes. But then at the same time there was no choice as everything was primarily in English. The Hispanics here have everything in their language so it does nothing to encourage them to learn. Maybe this layoff is a jolt of reality that they really need English to survive.
As for the layoffs it is the same old story in Canada. I read an article in my former home town newspaper about the Lazy Boy plant closing down a year ago and how other large factories shut down as well as how the employees are coping making less than half of what they made in an hour. They blamed it on free trade. What was interesting was the fact that Lazy Boy ended up adding production in their factories in Tennessee and Missouri. My first thought was they must be using illegal employees. Having lived and worked in Canada the benefits aren't as great as there is government run healthcare so that is one less benefit employees get.
- 12-24-2006, 03:08 PM #7
- Join Date
- Aug 2006
- North Carolina
MW-I think you about said it all!!
The evidence is overwheming that the globalist policies implemented by Bush and his predecessors are having a very deleterious effect on the economic realities of average Americans, both present and future. (And not just the economic, but social, environmental and moral).
If these results were unplanned, a responsible and moral President and Congress would acknowledge the present conditions and do their best to reverse things. Since we are not seeing this happen, and in fact our government continues to make matters worse, the only logical conclusion is that our government is the enemy of the people, is and has been in collusion with the corporate elites, and they are being rewarded handsomely for their corruption.
I wish I could say that I was optimistic and thought there was a way to reverse the present conditions, but knowing human nature - the lust for power and wealth by politicians, and the ignorance of most Americans as to what is really going on in this country, I just don't see how it will happen. The only way to turn things around would be to rid our govenment of just about every rotten one of them.
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