Employers reaching out to displaced Plywood workers
By Brent Curtis
staff writer | August 27,2014
Employers in the Rutland region and beyond have inquired about hiring the displaced employees of Rutland Plywood.
Less than a week after the 84,000-square-foot woodworking factory in Rutland Town burned to the ground, 15 to 20 employers have come forward with an interest in offering jobs to some of the 170 Plywood employees whose jobs were lost.
“The response has been really great to this unfortunate tragedy,” said Wendy Morse, regional manager of the Department of Labor. “There’s no training manual for this sort of thing and the response we’ve been getting is impressive.”
Morse said privacy issues restricted her from identifying the prospective companies, but she said they were a diverse cross-section of construction, manufacturing, health care and service industry businesses.
Some of the employers are seeking permanent workers while others are hiring for only temporary positions, she said.
Most of the businesses are right in Rutland County, she said, although some are in other parts of the state and one company is outside of Vermont.
She said her agency is trying to organize a job fair in Rutland either this week or next that would be open only to Rutland Plywood employees.
Responding to the sudden loss of so many jobs is a new experience for Morse who said she hasn’t witnessed so much job loss because of a fire in her 12 years with the agency.
“It’s a unique tragedy because fire isn’t something that’s planned for,” she said. “Even with large scale layoffs, there’s typically a window of time before the layoffs take effect. This situation is different. There was no warning. The work was there one day and gone the next.”
The state agency has been assisted in its search for employers by Rutland Economic Development Corp., and the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce.
REDC executive director James Stewart said his organization has been contacted by three employers looking to hire Plywood employees while Thomas Donahue, executive vice president and CEO of the Chamber, said he had spoken with a furniture company in Granville, N.Y., that is interested in hiring some of the displaced workers.
“They’re not looking to poach the employees. They’re just looking to help people who have lost their jobs,” Stewart said.
Teresa Miele, director of Human Resources at Rutland Plywood, said her company feels the same way. While the company’s owner is still mulling over whether to rebuild, Miele said the employees shouldn’t wait for that decision to be made.
“We need our employees to take care of their own needs first,” she said. “This is about finding employment right now for our people.”