Workers React to Haworth Jonesboro Systems Products Plant Closure Announcement

JULY 14, 2004 -- Posted at: 7:25p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR - After the announcement yesterday morning that Haworth Jonesboro Systems Products will be closing, employees are speaking out.

"They said we were doing good here," said Joseph Campbell, "and you know all sudden don't have a job."

Peter Jocham added, "I saw it originally as one of the growing companies in the area, and we never expected this."

The employees of Haworth said management didn't even know about the decision to close this plant. It opened 6 years ago this month. By November it's scheduled to be closed.

Carrie Gutshall said, "I was sick, sick to my stomach... it was such a shock."

The 230 workers at this plant, and others in Texas and Pennsylvania, have been given the option to apply for jobs at company headquarters in Holland, Michigan. Most will look for jobs in the area or in other states, or get advanced education.

"I think I'll go into the medical field, you know, someone is always getting sick, needing help," explained Gutshall.

Workers will receive financial assistance through multiple state and federal work programs. The employees can also get help with writing resumes, searching for employment and receive information about social service programs among other assistance.

Employees have been told they'll be given at least a 60 day notice, and letters could go out as soon as next week. Peter Jocham said the 2 month notice gives him time to prepare for a move back home to New Jersey. After working as a contractor for a year, he was hired by the company in April. He said managers were still hiring new employees as recently as last week.

"We're making lemonade out of lemons more or less," he added.

Company and state officials will finalize plans to assist workers after a meeting Thursday morning. Meanwhile, Jonesboro Mayor Hubert Brodell said he and Chamber of Commerce officials are setting up a meeting about the closure with company leaders in Michigan.