Iberia

Dec 3, 2010 6:46 PM by Carolyn Cerda

Jeanerette Layoffs

Dozens in Jeanerette are out of work tonight. This, after almost 80 employees were laid off today at Jeanerette Mills. It's the beginning of the end for the plant, which has operated as a distribution center for Fruit of the Loom for the past 40 years.

It used to be the largest employer in the city. Last month, workers were notified that the company was consolidating and that their plant would close by the end of December. This morning it came to pass, as nearly half of the entire staff was let go.

"The notice was given October 1st, so I basically prepared myself," said Pauline Myers, who worked at the plant for 32 years. "I was ready to go, I was ready to get out of there."

Myers says the moment was bitter sweet."Some were excited, they were ready to get out of there. Some were emotional because this has been the only job that a lot of us have held for a long time."

Julia Herbert, who worked at Jeanerette Mills for 20 years, says she feels the same about the layoffs.

"The only thing we were upset about is we didn't get a severance package," said Hebert. "It was like, go get unemployment and that was it."

Both Myers and Hebert say they'll probably go back to school. They also say they'll miss their co-workers the most.

"I won't have any benefits, but the people I worked with here were like family," said Myers. "Oh, definitely the people," said Hebert. "You know we been there everyday we work with everybody, it's like family."

As the largest employer in Jeanerette, many small businesses are now concerned that the closure will effect the entire city.

"Yes, yes, big effect. Big effect... huge," said Lillian Robinson, owner of Lil's Kitchen in Jeanerette. "Jeanerette got a lot and with Jeanerette Mills open and the people that work there, that's where the income comes from. So, it will hurt."

"That's (Jeanerette Mills) a great revenue that's going to be missed, a lot, said Hebert. "But, hopefully they'll get someone else over here."

So far, there has been no word on if and when a new company will move into the building.

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