Cooper employees making a new start - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Cooper employees making a new start

By Wainwright Jeffers - bio | email

December 30, 2008.

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - 2009 promises to be a rough year for the Albany area's economy, Cooper Tire will lay off nearly 1,400 workers.

Hundreds other jobs connected to the plant will also be lost.

Political and education leaders are working to help those affected employees.

They held a meeting for the workers Tuesday night.

"It was pretty devastating but in the long run I know it's probably for the good of us," said Veronica Godwin, Cooper employee.

She will all lose her job in the coming year.

That's why Godwin attended the informational meeting with hundreds of other co-workers to find out about options available to them.

"We want our citizens that have been negatively impacted to be as competitive as possible in this labor market," said Dr. Anthony Parker, Albany Technical College President

Educational leaders, representatives from the labor department and other state and local agencies are working with employees to make sure they're not left in the cold.

Ensuring they know their options for financing school, and information about re-training.

"We're going to offer a flexible schedule for them, online courses, and we're going to offer a B semester for them," said Parker.

"I heard quite a few options," said Gloria Garrett, Cooper employee.

Gloria, like many others in the room will have to make a new start.

"Right now I'm looking at going back to school or getting certified in some type of training," said Kathy Thomas, Cooper employee

"I have a small catering business I do on the side now," said Garrett.

Another plus for employees, the labor department is working on getting a career center set up at the plant.

Hopefully the dialog they had Tuesday will help many here take that first step.

"I'm going to make some calls and inquiries and see what I can make happen," said Garrett.

"It's up to us to get up and get out there and get our lives back on track," said Thomas.

Georgians who lose their jobs can collect unemployment for 26 weeks.

The Labor Commissioner wants to try to extend that to as much as 130 weeks.

Albany State, Albany Tech, and Darton College plan to waive the application fee for Cooper employees who want to go back to school.

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