More than one-hundred jobs at Joplin's Eagle Picher company have been terminated. One man who says his job was terminated today says these were all full-time positions.
This is the second time in two months that Eagle Picher has gotten rid of positions. In May, the company laid-off around 90 employees company wide, some from plants in Pittsburg and Joplin.
The company is known for its manufacturing of batteries, and has had contracts with NASA. Today, though, there was a somber feeling around the facility.
Work is life. For many of these now former Eagle Picher workers, life was work.
"I've loved my job. I gave it my all. I actually feel like I went above and beyond. It is what it is," says Tony Grimm, a now former employee.
Grimm had worked at Eagle Picher for the past 32 years.
"Graduated Seneca High School and been here ever since," says Grimm.
But this morning was a time for Grimm, and more than 100 other now former workers, to say goodbye, perhaps for the last time. Grimm says Eagle Picher terminated about 33% of its Joplin workforce, with severance pay offered.
Before today, there were rumors.
"I actually have had that sinking feeling in my stomach for a couple weeks," says Grimm.
Then, this day of sadness began with Joplin police on standby.
"There were people who worked here who had friends, husbands who work for the police department," says Grimm.
Grimm says he and others knew the end had come.
"We just walked in, and then they had people just walk up and say you need to go to HR. And I knew right then I was going to lose my job," says Grimm.
Security guards escorted groups of former workers to the company's parking lot. Grimm says the terminations aren't because of decrease in demand for manufactured products. Rather, he believes Eagle Picher is getting ready to be bought-out.
"It's going to look really good for the new company that they're not going to have all this payout," says Grimm.
Between now and that possible buy-out, though, reality is still sinking-in.
Grimm said at the end of our interview, "I'm probably done. I got to go. I'm just tired now. I think it's just hitting me hard, all of a sudden."
Eagle Picher this afternoon confirmed to us 135 jobs were terminated; 130 jobs terminated at the company's main facility at C and Porter streets, and 5 jobs terminated at the company's location on Rangeline Road. A company official says workers' vacation times were paid-out. The official told us the company is preparing to position itself for "future markets," which will include new products.
Company officials do not anticipate more reductions at its facilities in Joplin.
Joplin's job center at 730 Wall Avenue will host an information meeting for all terminated workers at 10:30 am on August 2nd, regarding unemployment benefits and job placement assistance. This will be a unique opportunity for former workers to have a face-to-face conversation with a state worker. If you can't make this meeting, you can call 800-320--2519 or visit a State of Missouri web page for unemployment benefits assistance.
KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas