Chance to Reduce Unemployment in West Fresno County

April 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Hundreds of people lined up at the Toma-Tek tomato processing plant looking for financial independence.Many collect unemployment and most have families relying on them back on.

Everyone in line is financially deprived, starving for a chance to prove themselves worthy of a job at Firebaugh's tomato processing plant Toma-Tek.

"With these crisis you can't find a job. A lot of people are not hiring," said Armando Taffoya from nearby Tranquillity.

But Toma-Tek is. The company is looking to fill close to 700 summer positions within the next week. 22-year old Taffoya donned his best outfit to make a favorable impression. His father is counting on him.

"My dad's helping me and I'm helping him...some how! But we'll get through it," said Taffoya

Unemployment in west Fresno county continues to climb due to drought and loss of agricultural jobs. Firebaugh's unemployment rate is almost 30%.

Michael Baldwin is looking to reduce that statistic. He was first in line seeking financial freedom. "There's only 2 things we need: we need to eat and we need a place to sleep," said Baldwin.

They also need year round work and not just seasonal. Toma-Tek is on their side and appealing to the state for funds to better train employees.

"The training is really important to us. We're gonna bring the people up to skill and get more skills on them," said operations manager Carlos Flores.

Geri Trujillo polished up her resume. Under previous work: lift operator at Toma-Tek. Both Trujillo and her fiancée want to break the cycle of seasonal work and find something permanent.

"Basically that's the way it is around here. Seasonal work. And the rest of the year unemployment," said Trujillo. Toma-Tek will continue to hand out applications this week from 2 to 4pm. Company officials expect over 1,000 people will show up this week looking for work.

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