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Robert Trigaux

In a world of relentless layoffs, two who go beyond the call of duty to find new jobs



Havatampafactoryearly1900stimesfiles Wake up and good morning. Here are two inspiring efforts by people facing layoffs at companies pressed to downsize by the recession or changes in their industry. One is about cigar maker Hav-A-Tampa whose parent, Altadis, announced in June it was closing its Tampa production plant, near E Broadway Avenue, leaving almost 500 employees jobless. Here's the story on the closing.

(Photo shows Tampa's Hav-A-Tampa factory in early 1900s. From St. Petersburg Times files.)

The second inspiration comes from the folks at the Jabil Circuit plant in Billerica, Mass. Jabil, based in St. Petersburg, decided to close the facility but the plant's people and the Boston area business community's response to help is one cool story. More on that in a moment.

Hav-A-Tampa machinist Ronald Russell has stepped up to help his fellow displaced workers. At first, he tried to contact local businesses to see if they would hire his colleagues. To make things easier, he asked his jobless peers for a buck apiece to build a Web site to house all of their resumes so companies could more easily consider hiring them. Soon, was born. CNN just covered Russell's story. Here's a video report about it.

HavatampalogoThe Web site features 40 resumes from those laid off and looking for work. Russell gives special thanks to these companies for helping: ABC Staffing, Goldin & Associates, TRC Staffing, Spartan Staffing and TechStaff. Since becoming the unofficial job placement advocate for his former colleagues, Russell told CNN that he has guarantees for 30 jobs, mostly for unskilled laborers who were laid off. He also cites the generosity of those businesses. As Russell said to CNN, his sales pitch is: "I told them if you could take one person you are a hero to 500."

And in Billerica, Mass., Jabil said earlier this year that it was shutting its plant and laying off more than 300 workers. Since then, the plant manager and others have rallied area companies to help. Those efforts gained national attention when the company advertised its plant closing and urged other companies to hire its “exceptionally skilled and experienced workers.’’

Today's Boston Globe is back at the local Jabil tale in a story headlined "Easing the pain of a shutdown." Workers have had access to a state career center set up at the plant where they can polish resumes on computers and printers donated by Jabil and have access to counselors. On Thursday one worker, Paul Mitchell, 59, interviewed with Raytheon Corp., which sent 14 recruiters to the Jabil career center as it tries to fill up to 50 skilled manufacturing jobs. Says the Globe story:

"Jabil, labor officials say, is a model for employers dealing with plant shutdowns and mass layoffs, demonstrating how they can partner with the state and other employers to help their workers."

Suzannebumpmassstatelaborworkforcedevelopment The Globe story then quotes Suzanne Bump (see photo), Massachusetts secretary of Labor and Workforce Development:

“When we first heard of the Jabil closure, we did not know that a new standard for assisting laid-off workers would be set. Yesterday’s event created a model closure and recruitment effort that we would like to see replicated where job losses could be offset by this kind of creative collaboration.’’

Kudos to Hav-A-Tampa's Russell and Jabil. Nobody wants layoffs but going the extra mile in these hard times is well worth some praise.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist


[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:25am]


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