What's in store for Tecumseh workers - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

What's in store for Tecumseh workers

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April 10, 2003

Douglas - Tecumseh Products Company is moving its Coffee County plant to Brazil to cut costs. The decision shocked employees and community leaders. They were given little warning of their plan to close the plant. But that doesn't mean an emergency plan for just this sort of thing wasn't in place.

Work is still going on inside Douglas's Tecumseh plant, but engines and carburetor parts are not the first thing on employee's minds.

"Douglas doesn't have too many jobs that's hiring right now, it's just a bad situation," line operator Victor Benson said.

So now what? "Leadership is going to work dilligently to replace jobs as soon as we can," Industrial Authority Chairman Luke Morgan said. 

But exact plans are still coming together, because the group is just as shocked if not more than employees that one of the community's largest employees is leaving. Tecumseh never negotiated to stay.

"Most of the info we got from Tecumseh was passed along by the employees, Tecumseh gave us little information until just the last few days when they made the decision to close the plant," Douglas Mayor Max Lockwood said . 

In that time they've arranged a meeting with the Department of Industry and Trade this month, to try to bring another employer to the plant.

"They have a fine facility out there, 350,000 square feet, 800 trained people, that's something we can sell," Mayor Lockwood said.

While creating jobs in Douglas is the long-term goal the Department of Labor is sure it will soon be filled with Tecumseh employees, losing a median wage of $10.46 an hour. The job search will span from Tifton to Waycross.

"We're already contacting them because we know there won't be immediate jobs available here in Douglas so we're going to canvas the entire region,"Cheryl Miller said. 

One-hundred jobs being created at Fitzgerald's Coachmen trailer plant is a top option.

But the layoff disaster team will get a better idea of what the workers want next week when they begin passing out surveys and meeting with employees. 

People at the Tecumseh plant will be eligible for unemployment. It pays as much as $295  for up to six months.

posted at 3:17 p.m. by dave.d'marko@walb.com