Firebaugh Employer Lays Off 200

FIREBAUGH, Calif. That's significantly higher than Fresno county's jobless rate,18.5 percent.

Garguilo incorporated is one of Firebaugh's biggest employers but come June 15 the company will lay off 262 employees, about a third of its work force.

Garguilo officials weren't available for comment but Firebaugh City Manager Jose Ramirez says the layoffs are tied to federal cutbacks in water deliveries to west-side farmers.

"The chronic water crisis out here, this is certainly the result of that," Ramirez said. "I'm sure that they're having a heck of time trying to get enough tomato planted in the ground for the fresh market for the season."

Firebaugh already has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. Businesses here struggle because people don't have money to spend.

Pharmacist Ron Louie of West-Side Drugs was surprised to hear of the layoffs at Gargiulo.

"Oh I think it will have a big hit on the economy. It will affect especially people with kids who have health plans," Louie said.

With roughly a third of the people in town without work, Ramirez says it's already tough keeping families fed through food vouchers and donations.

"200 jobs is devastating. But for us even one job loss is devastating. In this climate, we need every job we can get."

Ramirez is grateful Garguilo gave advance notice of the layoffs so the city can seek county help for those soon to be unemployed.

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