Poplar Bluff factory workers fear additional layoffs - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Poplar Bluff factory workers fear additional layoffs

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POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- The Trump administration has promised to bring back American jobs, but now the administration's trade policy-- specifically the steel tariffs-- may force America's largest maker of steel nails out of business.

The tariffs have already forced the company to lay off 60 of its 500 employees, and those who are still working fear more layoffs are coming. The first round of layoffs were contract workers, but the next cut would affect long-time employees.

Machine Operator Diane Brogdon has worked at Mid-Continent Nail Factory in Poplar Bluff, Missouri for more than eight years. "Once I get to know a machine, I would rather work on it. I know it, I can make it work," Brogdon says. 

She, along with her co-workers fears that they could soon be facing unemployment, "A lot of them are scared." 

Brogdon says she's worried about those who have made a career out of working at the factory, "I'm getting older, you know, and I don’t want to start over. The younger ones they're upset, but they can go out and find jobs really easily." 

Yet, her biggest concern is where she would live with her youngest daughter, who's attending college, if she were to be laid off in the coming months. "I just bought a house just a few months ago. I like my house, I don’t want to lose it," Brogdon explains. 

Jimmie Coffers, a five-year machine operator, is also trying to support his family. Coffers laughs saying that his family consists of his girlfriend and their two dogs, which he considers their kids, "I use it to put a roof over out head and food in our mouth." 

Coffers is worried about the lack of employment in a town of 17,000 people, if there plant were to close down, "Five hundred jobs is really hard to come by, especially if we’re all looking for one."

Mid-Continent claims its orders dropped 50% after it was forced to raise prices. If this financial hardship continue, the company expects to lay off 200 more employees within the next six weeks. 

Mid-Continent filed a tariff exclusion on June 18th. Company officials do now know the status of the filing, but are trying to get it expedited.

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