Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

0

Share

Download to read offline

Kelsey Article #3 08

Download to read offline

  • Be the first to like this

Kelsey Article #3 08

  1. 1. 35 Years to Unemployment By: Kenisha Kelsey Barbara Wilson couldn’t help fretting as she walked with her coworkers to the meeting. All around her the women were speculating, the same question echoing through the room: “What’s going on?” Earlier that day, their bosses were pulled into a meeting, but no one knew why. Upon their return, all the workers were asked to meet in a large opening on the factory floor. They were given no explanation. When all were gathered, they heard news that would change their lives. Fruit of the Loom was closing. Barbara Wilson is among the 630 employees who lost their jobs this year when the Russell Springs, Ky., Fruit of the Loom plant closed. With the company’s decision to relocate its manufacturing to Honduras, Russell County fell into a state of uncertainty. Many fear that the loss of jobs will hurt other county industries. City officials must now find ways to compensate for the loss of tax revenue from the factory’s closing. For Wilson and many other employees the question is much simpler: “What am I going to do?” Ronnie Conner was a finishing supervisor at Fruit of the Loom. “Some people were scared,” said Conner. “Worried about what they were going to do, worried about losing everything. We were unhappy.” This is Conner’s second time around. “I worked for them in two different locations: In Georgia and here.” The Georgia native spent his first seven years working at the plant there. After the announcement of its closing, Conner was offered a job in Russell Springs. “They announced the closing, offered me a job here and moved me up here,” he said. Conner is once again facing the decision to stay or go. This time he must think about his daughter Mackenzie who is attending Russell County High School. “We’re going to try to stay
  2. 2. here for a little while at least while she is still in school,” Said Conner. “Then I’ll try to go somewhere else.” Conner is now unemployed and trying to receive assistance for his own education. Conner said that when Fruit of the Loom announced its closing, it tried to make the transition as simple as it could for its employees. The company applied for a Trade Assistance Act. The act helps extended unemployment and help people return to school. “There is a local branch that is part of the state that is helping people, helping sending them to school and things like that,” said Conner. Barbara Wilson has been a line worker at Fruit of the Loom for 35 years. She is a small woman. Her hands are cracked from years spent on the factory line. Her face is covered in lines from age or worry. Now 59, Wilson started working at Fruit of the Loom right out of high school and never left. Fruit of the Loom is all she’s ever known. The company tried to make the transition as easy as it could for its employees. “You know it doesn’t make it any easier,” Wilson said. “They were afraid that a lot of people would retaliate and tear up stuff but nobody ever did anything.” When asked why she thought no one destroyed anything, Wilson believed it was out of respect for the company. “Because they had done everything they could for us,” she said. “I knew I wasn’t going to do anything because everything I have is from Fruit of the Loom.” During their last few days at work, Wilson and the employees spent a lot of time shredding papers. “There wasn’t a whole lot coming through (the line). We all just spent a lot of time together. We all said our goodbyes to people. We were sad. You work there so long and you knew when you left that would be it, you’d lose contact with a lot of them,” said Wilson. After 35 years, Wilson’s time at the company is now over. For the first time, Wilson is experiencing a new type of life: unemployment.
  3. 3. Having worked at the factory for the majority of her life, being without work has been a difficult change for Wilson. “I just don’t do a whole lot,” Wilson said. “I have to watch what I spend. My family is good to help but I’m not used to that.” Wilson spends most of her days at home searching for employment. But in an area as small as Russell County, there may be no employment to find. Fruit of the Loom made up 1/3 of the industrial workforce in Russell County. Many fear that the loss of jobs could have an impact on commerce for the whole county. Denver Wilson is a local author and owner of Country Folks Realty and Auction. The recent increase of water levels at Lake Cumberland has caused tourism to rise in Russell County. The rise will help off-set the losses in the real estate market. Wilson said other industries will most likely be feeling the impact of Fruit of the Loom’s closing. “It’s going to hurt retail business such as Kmart. Convenience Stores might get the blunt of it,” he said. “Banks will probably suffer a little because people aren’t financing houses or cars.” Wilson said that overall, other industrial companies in the area are picking up the slack. Stephen’s Pipe and Steel recently purchased the Fruit of the Loom building and will be hiring soon. Also, Dr. Schneider’s and Bruss North America have expanded to take on new employees. Wilson’s biggest concern is the pay. “They don’t have the pay scale that Fruit of the Loom does,” he said. This could hurt many Fruit of the Loom employees looking for work. The closing of Fruit of the Loom is hurting the county as a whole. The 630 jobs was not the only thing the county lost, According to Russell Springs City Council documents. With the closing of Fruit of the Loom came the loss of approximately $203,000 in income tax revenue to the city. Water and disposal is also losing approximately $600,000. Water treatment will lose
  4. 4. $1.3 million. With losses like that, it is easy to see why many in the community are fearful of the future. The closing of Fruit of the Loom impacts much more than just the individuals who worked there. The community as a whole can feel the impact financially and emotionally. The fear of the future could be the biggest impact on the community. “It’s scared more people than anything. Just the not knowing,” said Denver Wilson. No one in the community is exempt from the impact that losing Fruit of the Loom will have. “It will have an impact on everyone’s business until we get those 600 jobs back,” said Wilson. If I were to publish this story I would publish it in my local newspaper the Russell Register. I would publish the story locally because it applies to people in my hometown. Sources: Barbara Wilson: 270-585-1368 Ronnie Conner: 270-566-9274 Denver Wilson: 270-866-7676

Views

Total views

180

On Slideshare

0

From embeds

0

Number of embeds

4

Actions

Downloads

2

Shares

0

Comments

0

Likes

0

×