July 7, 2013

Life after Hostess layoffs in Maine

Eight months after they lost their jobs, one former employee finds work while another is still looking.

By Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

click image to enlarge

Bob Prescott drives a forklift at his new job for Distributor Corp. of New England in Westbrook last week.

Photos by Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Former Hostess employee Bob Prescott works at Distributor Corp. of New England. “I’m lucky I have a wonderful job,” he says.

Additional Photos Below

BY THE NUMBERS

Hostess laid off 370 employees at its Biddeford facility and 500 in Maine last year.

The company put more than 18,000 people out of work in the United States when it closed 33 bakeries.

She is considering enrolling in one of the certificate programs at Southern Maine Community College. They're not as expensive, "yet it would give me a step up as far as being re-employed," she said.

Tapley, who spends much of her time applying for jobs, said she doesn't see many full-time positions with benefits. The new Market Basket in Biddeford is hiring for $8 an hour, she said, but all those positions are part time.

"I couldn't even venture a count," Tapley said of the number of jobs she's applied for. She hasn't gotten a single call back for an interview.

"There's nothing out there," she said. "It amazes me that they're saying the unemployment rate is really low. The jobs people are taking are so low-paying I don't know how they make it."

Maine's unemployment rate in May was 6.8 percent, compared to the national rate of 7.6 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Before Hostess closed, Tapley was making $16.56 an hour. She's collecting unemployment now and her husband is on disability and working two days a week. They had to make the emotional decision to sell the house she's lived in since she was 5. They hope to move into a smaller place once the house sells.

Though being out of work has been tough on her finances, Tapley considers herself fortunate. She and her husband started getting rid of debt a few years ago in anticipation of retirement. Their main expense is their $425 weekly mortgage payment. They also pay $800 a month for health insurance.

Tapley said she recently found out she won't get the $4,000 in severance, back pay and vacation pay she was owed by Hostess. She wasn't surprised. The company has said it can't pay workers for unused vacation time or severance because it wasn't approved by lenders as part of its wind-down plan.

"I kind of knew it before I even filled out the paperwork," she said. "This (bankruptcy) judge in New York, he doesn't care about us. I really think sometimes they think it's our fault (for striking), so we're in punishment mode. It's frustrating."

Tapley's family has been supportive, but she's still feeling the emotional strain of being unemployed for so long. Once upbeat about her prospects for landing a new job, she now feels stuck in limbo.

"It's a roller coaster. I'm up one day, down the next," she said. "I'm trying to stay busy, but it's kind of like you're between a rock and a hard place. I just don't know what I'm doing."

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

ggraham@mainetoday.com

Twitter: grahamgillian

 

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Bob Prescott looks up as he aligns his forklift at his new job for Distributor Corp. of New England in Westbrook. Prescott was laid off by Hostess late last year.

Gabe Souza

  


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