Two weeks ago, more than 150 workers at the Climax Packaging plant in Lowville were told not to come to work the next day. The plant was closing immediately and everyone would lose their jobs. Thursday, a job fair in Watertown attracted many former Climax workers looking to get back on their feet.
It was hard to find a place to park outside the Bruce Wright Memorial Conference Center. Inside, people milled around a room sometimes stopping to introduce themselves to a local employer looking to hire.
Angel Munson is handing out pamphlets listing the businesses here today. She’s with Jefferson County Department of Employment and Training.
“We’ve talked to a lot of Climax people today. They are still in shock. It’s tough. We’re doing everything we can to help. We have a lot of employers reach out to us telling us they want to interview Climax people first for jobs. The community really came together,” Munson said.
Jim Noftsier carpooled from Lowville with a few of his former coworkers from the mill. Nofsier worked for Climax for 27 years packing boxes and operating machinery.
“It felt like we were betrayed. We were nothing. Just a number and just disposable and we’re people,” he said.
He nods in the direction of his old work buddies. Some are sitting down filling out job applications. Nofsier says he’s having trouble finding a job that will pay him the $17 an hour he was making before.
“Like Convergence. We went there and it was like $9.50 an hour and I’m like, I can’t live on that.”
But Noftsier says he and his former coworkers are just starting their search. He says feels good about openings at one plant in Baldwinsville. He says the work there is similar to what he used to do at Climax.