Vanishing Jobs Part 2

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Think you may be losing your job? In the second part of our Eyewitness News investigation, we've gathered some important tips that'll help you recognize if your job could be in jeopardy. We also have important advice to help you prepare if you know you're losing your job.

Our Eyewitness News investigation of the future pf Triangle jobs took us to Mexico and a run down apartment building in the city of Reynosa. This building is home to some of the people who work in American factories for about ten dollars a day.

One of those workers, Juan Angel Castellano told Steve Daniels he wishes they paid him more.

He and his wife Berta live with their two children in a one room apartment.

But just down the road, living conditions are much worse.

Paula Sanchez lives in a shanty-town in a poorer part of Reynosa. Her family of four doesn't have plumbing, electricity or even a bathroom. They share an outhouse with their neighbors.

Despite her living situation, she feels lucky that her husband has a job working in one of the American factories in Reynosa. We've discovered that you can hire ten people in Reynosa for the price of one in North Carolina.

"Greed, in my humble opinion, will destroy America," says Walter Jones. He's a North Carolina congressman who's tired of hearing from people who are losing their jobs. He thinks free-trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA are a big problem.

"Does congress need to take a closer look at these free trade agreements?" asked Steve Daniels.

"Absolutely," replied Congressman Jones. "This administration and the next administration needs to do a better job of understanding that we need fair trade, not free trade."

Right now, there are 200 factories employing nearly one hundred thousand people in Reynosa. Since there's also plenty of open land, this could just be the beginning.

"As far as getting jobs, it's one day at a time," says Rochelle Richardson. She's losing her job at the Eaton factory in Johnston County. Her job is going to a factory in Reynosa. She says she understands why her factory is closing.

"If I had to make a business decision like that and let 10 people do what one person does, why not?" Rochelle says.

"There is no real sense of job security," says Professor Gary Gereffi. "I think that's a kind of anxiety we're unfortunately starting to live with," he continues.

Gereffi is with the Center on Globalization, Governance and Competitiveness at Duke University. He says there's a good way to know if your job might be in jeopardy.

"I think if you were looking for a single rule of thumb, if you said how long has this factory been in existence in this place. The longer it's been in existence, the more vulnerable your job probably is," Gereffi says.

Top things Manpower Staffing says manufacturing employee must do if the plant closes:

  1. Take advantage of what the company offers: If an outplacement service or other resources are offered, then employees must go and participate. Being upset is natural but not attending a free service to assist in employment transition is not wise. Go to everything you can. In addition, the companies HR Department will be getting calls from other local companies about the current talent pool. If the company sponsors a job fair then go.

  2. Be Proactive: Plant closings with big companies take time so most employees have six months to a year in advance to look for work or train on new skills. Do not procrastinate as the time will go by fast. Waiting until the last minute can cause you to miss a new opportunity or prepare your new skills.

  3. Use your referral network: Who you know is still one of the best tools to find a new job. Call all your friends and get the word out. This is also something that needs to start soon after the news of the closing is announced

  4. Use private and state agencies: Most markets have a pool of local employment services and certainly an ESC office. Go to them and learn the ropes. Get into the databases and form relationships.

  5. Training: Get started. Take computer classes, go to a technical school or start back at your local community college. Most schools offer free counseling and guidance so research and go.
Do you have an unemployment story to share or if you want to read about experiences of others. Visit our Vanishing Jobs message forum below.
Vanishing Jobs Message Forum

The federal government has a special program to help people whose jobs are going to foreign countries. Go to U.S. Department of Labor website and read about the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and Alternative.

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