Albany- Tallahassee-based Watkins Engineers has roughly 80 people working construction and maintenance jobs at the Proctor and Gamble plant in Albany. At six-thirty this morning, the first shift got a rude awakening--they were laid off. Watkins recently declared bankruptcy, but employees were told just a few days ago their jobs were safe.
"We were told Thursday our jobs were secured, work continue as normal," said laid off worker Herbert Hall. But work for the Watkins Engineers employees is over.
When Herbert Hall awoke this morning, he didn't think he'd be applying for a new job. "They called me and told me we were off site, pick up lay-off papers and our tool boxes until further notice," said Hall.
When the first shift arrived, they were greeted by P&G security and Dougherty County Police. Each was handed a piece of paper explaining that because of Watkins recent bankruptcy, Watkins' workers were not allowed on the property. They were told when to return to get their tools, and sent home.
"We've been accepting applications since 6:30 this morning. We've talked to approximately 100 people at this point," said Charles Weeks of Fru-Con Company.
Weeks was tipped off by P&G that Watkins' would be laying off employees. His company, Missouri based Fru-Con, hopes to pick up the P&G contract that Watkins' has lost. "We are hopeful we can work something out with P&G."
"Someone will take the contract out there," Hall said. "I'm sure the ones who been out there will go back to work. I don't know when that will be."
If P&G and Fru-Con strike a deal, Herbert Hall and the other contractors could be back to work in as soon as seven days. That's a prospect he looks forward to, even if it is under a new employer. Employees say Watkins Engineers have not given them any notice if or when they'll be paid for days worked.
Procter and Gamble says the Watkins' jobs will be performed by P&G workers until a new contractor is hired.