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Workers process layoffs from closing Komatsu plant

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BLUEFIELD, V.a. (WVVA) -- There was little joy to be found at the former Joy manufacturing plant, currently known as Komatsu, located in Bluefield, Virginia.

The facility is closing and 120 workers are being laid off, effective immediately, according to officials at the plant.

Many workers shared their concerns for the future, like Chris Hill. "You start thinking about the future, what am I going to do, I'm not as young as I used to be no more, like a lot of these other people."

Layoffs due to the pandemic have made headlines for months.

Up until this point, it's been mainly service workers who have been feeling the sting of layoffs, but now manufacturing workers at Komatsu are also joining the ranks of millions who are currently unemployed."

"When you come in for a shift and they said, 'You're done immediately after this,' that's hard to swallow after all the time you've put in, all the hours you've drove and everything that you've done here," said Hill.

Another worker, Ted Hagerman, one who had been at the plant for thirty-three years, couldn't believe how the day had transpired. "We've given a lot of dedication here, I've been through a lot of departments in the shop," said Hagerman. "To lose a job today, it's just unbearable, it's hard to consider."

The layoff's here are permanent. This site will close and the work that was performed here is being moved to Komatsu plants in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and another site in the commonwealth.

Larry Audoe, worker and the Vice President of the workers union said, "I've seen a lot of people get laid off, seen a lot of people get recalled, but this was just totally unexpected. We were just blind sided."

Many question if this only union shop owned by Komatsu has a part to play.

"I asked the question if had anything to do with us being shutdown and they said positively not," said Audoe. "It didn't have anything to do with it, with it being a union shop, but everyone's got there opinions."

Stay with WVVA for more updates on this story.

Christina Kass

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