Sofia Perez walked into /*Z Foods*/ in Madera for the final time Thursday. She's worked at the dried fruit processing plant for the past nine years, but she's one of about 200 seasonal employees being laid off... two months before the season usually ends.
Reporter asked: "How worried are you about finding another job?"
Sofia Perez replied: "A little worried because to be in a new job it's hard to start."
Managers at the plant say it's still operational for now, and they're hoping to find a buyer to keep it open. But if that doesn't happen, the facility will have to shut down and layoff as many as 400 people.
Miriam Castillo said, "It's gonna be hard, because everybody here even in the office, everyone comes together. Once you know all these people it's a very nice place to work."
Castillo says the good news is another Valley company with plants in Kerman and Sanger has offered jobs to dozens of the seasonal workers who are being laid off. And staff members from the /*Madera County Workforce Assistance Center*/ have been visiting the plant this week to help those still in search of jobs.
Tracie Scott-Contreras said, "One of the services we provide is to help businesses who are going to be closing or downsizing to try to react to their need immediately."
The Workforce Assistance Center is trying to help as many of the Z Foods employees as possible, but it's a difficult job because of the area's overall high unemployment, and the fact this department has faced its own budget cuts.
Tracie Scott-Contreras said, "It is exceedingly difficult, and because of that we've actually applied to the state for additional funding to support that effort."
Tracie Scott-Contreras says that funding could be available in a couple weeks. Meanwhile, Z Foods tells Action News it does not have an exact timeline for when a buyer must be found.
Miriam Castillo said, "I'm crossing my fingers that at the last minute we have someone that says we got bought, and hopefully everyone stays."