Mayor announces employment sessions for laid-off Cargill workers

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by Lane Kimble

MILWAUKEE -- Like most of the 587 other Milwaukee Cargill employees, Felix W. didn't get much notice he was out of a job.
 

"All of the sudden just dropped out from under you," Felix said.  "What are you gonna do?"

After 36 years at Cargill, Felix found out about the Menomonee Valley plant's closure July 30th while on vacation.

"Sixty-one years old, who's going to hire somebody like me," Felix asked.  "I can't do heavy lifting anymore, my knee's bad, my  back's bad."

State law required the company to pay its workers for 60 days, which means checks continue but only through September.

"Whether you've been there a year, or six years, or 36 years, we know that this is a setback for the workers," Mayor Tom Barrett said.

Sunday morning, Barrett let the laid off workers know Milwaukee won't leave them out to dry.

"These workers, many of whom live right here in the City of Milwaukee, will be in a situation where they will be able to find work," Barrett said.

The mayor announced a "rapid number of  meetings" designed to get the employees new jobs.  Monday and Wednesday, August 11 and 13, the state Department of Workforce Development and City of Milwaukee will hold orientation at Serb Hall on Oklahoma Avenue. 
 

Those will lead up to a closed session job fair at Serb Hall exclusively for Cargill workers on Thursday, August 14.  City leaders expect more than 40 employers on hand to talk new careers.

"Families depended on their income and their work to sustain them and now, we all have to chip in to help out," Milwaukee Alderman Jose Perez said.

The mayor couldn't say how much the new jobs would pay or if workers would need to move their families, but he urges people like Felix to show up.

"I've got to think there's going to be an employer who looks at him and says, 'Here's a guy who's come to work for 37 years.  This is the kind of worker I want to have,'" the mayor said.

If you're unable to attend this week's sessions, you can call the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board at 414-385-6920.  They'll help set you up with appointments this month to find new work.

Orientation sessions: Monday & Wednesday, August 11 & 13 at Serb Hall, 5101 W. Oklahoma Avenue, Milwaukee from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Closed Session Job Fair: Thursday, August 14 at Serb Hall.

Rapid Response Team Meetings: August 15, 19 & 21 at HIRE Center, 27th & North Avenue, Milwaukee.

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