By NICOLE GUGINO
OBSERVER Assistant News Editor
SILVER CREEK - Time moves on and with it the layoffs at Petri's Baking Products grow closer.
The Department of Labor Rapid Response Team and Chautauqua Works have been taking action right along in the process to try to help the nearly 150 workers facing unemployment.
Work Force Investment Board Executive Director Katie Geise said an open job fair began the process and more recently a targeted job fair was held just for Petri's workers.
"What we tried to do as an area is hold a job fair on May 15 at the Clarion open to all job seekers. We had 26 employers and over 100 job seekers attend," she explained. "For this we tried to take it to the next level and have a job fair directed specifically to Petri's employees. We were able to go on site and we had 25 employers all on site where already laid off and still-working employees could meet with employers. Fifty-seven employees utilized the job fair, but I do not know if any were offered jobs yet."
She said one reason some workers may have not started new employment yet is many Petri's employees have expressed a desire to finish working at Petri's until the last day.
"The feeling we got from workers is that they would like to finish out their time at Petri's and wait until the last day to start a new job. I think employers also got that impression. Hopefully positions will be offered to them when it is time," she added.
She said comments they heard about the event were that it was "worthwhile." In addition to employers there was also a representative from Fidelis Care to speak to workers about affordable health insurance options after being laid off.
Geise wanted to commend Petri's for opening their doors to the DOL and WIB to hold these events.
"They have been very open to help the displaced workers as much as they can," she said.
In addition to hosting the targeted job fair, Petri's also allowed the Rapid Response Team to hold a meeting with workers in March to explain "what to do next," answer questions and provide resources.
Geise said next they are planning a workshop on training options.
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification for Petri's was recently updated to say layoffs will commence June 15 and the closing of the plant will occur between June 15 and June 28, displacing 143 workers.
Geise said this is also the latest information WIB has received.