Former Mueller plant employees still looking for work

WYNNE, AR (KAIT) – Residents in the city of Wynne told Region 8 News they're hopeful Mueller Copper Tube Products decides to rebuild. According to Mayor Bob Stacy, a representative with Mueller told him Tuesday that 96 employees have been rehired after initially being laid off in September. Stacy said the company has worked out a lease agreement with the owners of a 30,000 square foot building.

"Tomorrow we're going to meet with Mueller. They've acquired 30,000 square feet and they've moved some repackaging to this and they're supposedly maybe interested in another 30,000 square feet," said Stacy.

Tuesday, Stacy met with several agencies at the Cross County Area Chamber of Commerce to discuss options for displaced workers. According to the chamber, approximately ten people signed up for various programs.

"When I first went, I was a little surprised there was not a big turnout, which is possibly a good thing," said Stacy.

The plastics division of the plant caught fire September 6, 2011 at Mueller. The plant laid off nearly 170 people after the fire.

"A lot of them are mainly just concerned about feeding their family and getting by, and what state options are available to them they weren't' aware of," said Stacy. "Several of them were curious about maybe changing their futures and going to school."

Stacy said a month ago, there was a lot of uncertainty in Wynne. He said he was unsure what the company would do as far as rebuilding.

"They had phenomenal insurance, and everything just points good to me," said Stacy. "They're insurance will allow them to completely take this building down and rebuild it, to accommodate the way that it'll flow so it can be the most profitable, where this old building didn't accommodate that."

Region 8 News talked to several residents of Wynne Wednesday. Most of them knew of someone who was impacted by the plant's problems, however, former employees declined to comment on camera.

"I have a friend. His name is Michael. He's been working there for a couple of years. He has two kids. Now he's trying to find a job at a potato farm because he says he doesn't think they're going back there soon," said Gerardo Godoy.

Godoy has been working at Don Jose's Mexican Restaurant for three years. He said the lunch rush has declined since Mueller's layoff.

"We can tell down here in my pocket, everywhere, everybody's pocket. We used to get really busy over lunch because there were over 35-40 people sometimes from the factory and now we don't have none," said Godoy. "I hope they open back the factory because this, you know so many people in this town that have family, have children and they can't afford their life if they don't have a good job."

"We've got a new housing complex of 37 houses that they're building right now. They're using a lot of, buying material, all the material locally, and using some local contractors," said Stacy. "We have a tractor supply that's going to open within a month to a month and a half that should supply 15 jobs possibly, which will help. They're taking interviews today for our new state veteran's cemetery out in the Birdeye area."

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