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Wilson Prepares For Next Round Of Layoffs

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WILSON, N.C. — The city of Wilson is applying what it learned from Hurricane Floyd to job layoffs.

Local and state government agencies, along with business leaders, are forming an emergency response team. They want to help over 500 textile workers get help when they are laid off in September.

Wilson is no stranger to floods and their destructive power over homes and jobs. But it is the high tide of a bad textile economy that is sinking half the workforce at VF Jeanswear.

It will not be until later this month that VF employee Kay Alston discovers which half she is in.

"We're wondering who is going to be left," Alston said. "I know I'm one of the ones wondering. Will I be one of the ones that stay, or one of the ones that leave."

VF Jeanswear will layoff 526 workers by Sept. 26. Local leaders are preparing as they would for a natural disaster.

"With the creation of the Situation Response Team, there should be no gaps in helping those who are or may be in need," said Frank Emory, Chairman of the Wilson County Commissioners.

The Situation Response team hopes to make job hunting like one-stop shopping. Business representatives, along with local and state agencies, will be available in one place one day a week.

The weekly meetings at the Wilson Chamber of Commerce will be a chance for displaced workers to get information, find assistance and take hold of opportunities -- like help getting job training at community colleges.

The meetings start next Wednesday at 8 a.m.

"We all would need some assistance in finding a job," Alston said, "and, you know, take care of our families. And, you know, whatever they can do to help us. . . "

Alston, like many others, hopes it will be real help -- and not empty promises.

"Well, like today's a touchy-feely thing," said James Johnson of the Wilson City Council. "Let's be honest. It is a warm fuzzy. The proof is going to be in the pudding."

And also in how many workers the response team can put back to work.

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