Hundreds of laid off Friede Goldman workers could go back to work soon in Pascagoula. Today the company announced an agreement to complete the work on two floating oil rigs for a Norwegian company called Ocean Rig. A major contract dispute between the two companies forced Friede to layoff more than one thousand rig workers almost two weeks ago.
A news release from Friede today said work would resume on the rigs this morning but the company did not say when or how many laid off workers would be called back. News that Friede would soon resume the rig work spread as fast as the news about the layoffs, "I'm just excited. I can't help it. We just got all excited a while ago," said Cheryl Wallace, a laid off employee. How did employees hear about it? "My mother said she heard it on the news," Wallace said.
Despite the good news, a steady stream off former Friede workers still dropped off their claims cards of at the Pascagoula Unemployment office. Everyone is hoping to get a call soon but are planning for the worst.
WLOX met Ruth Ward an electrical assistant at Friede two weeks ago at the unemployment office. She says the lay off has been tough and is really looking forward to going back to work, "I need to work just like all the other people do. Because its heart breaking everyday your off it. It's hard, there are no jobs available that you van go to and make the kind of money you was making out there. The overtime helped out so much."
The rig dispute was one factor that led to Friede Goldman Halter to post a huge loss again in the fourth quarter of 2000. The company lost $102 million, $44 million of that is directly attributed to the two Ocean Rig projects.