Workers Are Laid Off When Contract Not Renewed

For three months now, workers with the B.E & K company have helped to set-up an estimated 11-thousand FEMA trailers with plumbing and electricity.

Saturday afternoon, they received their last paychecks.

Construction manager Jim Partridge says the layoffs were unavoidable.

"We're at the end of our contract with Bechtel. Bechtel has been a very good customer. We've been out here for about three months now and really have enjoyed helping the community," said Partridge.

Some workers, who did not want to be identified in a previous interview, believed with the absence of the company, some South Mississippians would suffer because they would have to wait longer for FEMA trailers.

Partridge says he does not know what will happen as a result of the layoffs, but he does know the company will still have a presence here in South Mississippi.

"We've got other work that we're doing in the area. We're gonna continue to support the community while we are here and after we're gone actually," said Partridge.

Many of those laid off Saturday have helped the community in more ways than one, like by helping to supply this coat drive at Trent Lott Middle School in Pascagoula last month.

So,while Partridge says he is saddened by the layoff, he believes the workers will be able to find other jobs.

"A lot of the people that we had here working with us are gonna stay here and continue to work with other companies. There's ample opportunity still here on the coast for them to be able to help the communities.There's several companies down here doing all sorts of work as far as the Katrina relief effort- anything from of course helping people get into temporary housing to clearing and things of that sort," said Partridge.

Partridge also said the company hired as many people as they possibly could from the state of Mississippi.