Sunland workers flung into job market

By Christina Calloway

PNT senior writer

When Sunland Inc. closed its doors earlier this week about 100 people were left jobless, many without a plan of what to do next.

Of the 100 workers, there are some who haven’t been in a job-seeking position in more than a decade.

With the ever-changing job market, the Clovis Workforce Connection office is set to help the large group on Wednesday with a free rapid response workshop addressing workers’ needs, such as learning how to file for unemployment and how to update a resume.

Laura Wyche, director of the Clovis Workforce Connection office, said job availability varies daily and depends on skill sets.

“One of the things that’s important is that we are doing a rapid response, which will… help them secure new employment as well as how to process unemployment claims,” Wyche said.

Sunland closed its doors after 25 years last Wednesday when it filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, citing the impact of a voluntary product recall and a government-enforced plant shutdown.

Sunland’s products were tied to a salmonella outbreak that caused 41 illnesses in 20 states last fall.

Sunland board member Wayne Baker said he wasn’t sure if employees are going to get an employment kind of benefit packages. Employees said they were told to file for unemployment but were equally unsure of any other compensation.

“I hope they can find jobs, we had such good employees,” Baker said. “They were very loyal and kind of family. We had a great bunch and that really hurts all of us that we couldn’t make it happen.”

Wyche said it’s important for employees that feel out of the job market loop to attend the workshop so they can get registered in her office’s database and brush up on career building skills to transfer to new positions.

Wyche said, “It’s always unfortunate but our primary goal becomes assisting everyone through the transition.”

She added the most recent rapid response workshop done in the Clovis office was about three to four week ago when a medical call alert company let a large number of employees go.

Wyche said the state’s Department of Workforce Solutions is also a great tool for those searching for employment and her office can help people navigate through the website.

Portales Mayor Sharon King said she’s hoping Sunland employees won’t have to stray too far from what they know because she believes it’s likely that after the bankruptcy process, another company could purchase the Sunland plant.

“Because of the upgrades that have happened at the plant, the likelihood of another company coming in and buying it is high,” King said Saturday.



What: Sunland Rapid Response workshop

When: 10 a.m. for the English session and 1:30 p.m. for the Spanish session on Wednesday.

Where: Clovis Workforce Connection office.

Cost: Free

Those who do not have transportation to Clovis are asked to call the Clovis Workforce Connection office to schedule a workshop in Portales.

Information: 763-3155.


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