Rubber plant lays off workers

Published 2:01 am Saturday, September 11, 2010

VIDALIA — Louisiana Elastomer has laid off approximately one third of its workforce due to economic woes, CEO Mike Wells said.

Wells said the layoffs were only temporary to combat slow business.

“This is the ebb and flow of business,” Wells said. “Business has slacked and we had to lay some people off. In a few weeks we should have people back.”

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LAEL employed approximately 30 employees before the layoff, and now the rubber recycling company is down to approximately 20 employees, said Sherri Brasher with LAEL’s Human Resources department.

The company opened its doors in Vidalia in 2009 and announced in January that it would build a second facility.

Brasher said LAEL is looking to start bringing double shifts back in three to four weeks and the company hopes to rehire the laid off employees by then.

Employees at LAEL have reported some problems cashing their paychecks and receiving unemployment for those laid off.

Brasher said the issues with check cashing stem from the places the employees use to cash their checks.

“The only reported problem we had about check cashing was at Walmart,” Brasher said. “If you take your check there they may not cash it if it has a handwritten signature on it instead of a stamped or printed one.”

Wells said errors by the state unemployment office have attributed to problems with unemployment benefits.

“We submitted our records and paid all of our unemployment taxes,” Wells said. “The state had errors on several people, and (Brasher) has been on the phone with the state daily trying to get their records straight.”

Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said he is very confident in LAEL and believes that the temporary layoffs are part of business.

“We have been working with them for five years,” he said “They are going through some hard economic times, and I wish them success.”

Copeland said the value of any company bringing jobs to the area is something not to be overlooked.

“If they create only 10 jobs that is 10 jobs we sorely need,” Copeland said. “If things go well they can maybe even create more jobs in the future.”

The City of Vidalia and the Concordia Parish Police Jury passed resolutions in July asking the state legislature to allow tax breaks for LAEL to fund the construction of a new facility in the area.

At the time, the jury heard complaints that LAEL owed money to some of its vendors. The jury later said it believed the matter was being handled.