Dozens of former Hostess Brand Inc. workers in the Cedar Valley are taking steps to get back in the workforce.
Approximately 85 people lost their jobs when Hostess closed the Wonder Bread plant two weeks ago. The majority of them showed up to the Waterloo Center for the Arts for a job fair sponsored by the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber (GCVA&C).
They were there to apply for a new job, or to get information about going back to school. They also spent some time talking with each other about what's transpired over the past 14 days.
Kent Zingg started working at the Wonder Bread plant in 1988.
"It was a really good job. I could raise my family with a good wage. They had a good pension plan, good insurance," said Zingg.
Over the years, Zingg says he and his co-workers made sacrifices to keep the plant going.
"We didn't get weekends off, we didn't get holidays of, we had split days off. But we all liked that job because at the end you could retire at a decent age and do what you wanted to do. That's what we were all hoping for," said Zingg.
When the plant closed, many of their hopes had to change. The GCVA&C is helping the workers through the tough time by connecting them with local employers.
"Longevity in a job is great," said Schwan's recruiter Mandy Shepherd. "As recruiters, we look for somebody who's been on the job for awhile."
With job longevity comes long-standing friendships. As they sat filling out applications, the former co-workers couldn't help but discuss how they got here.
"I kind of thought it was a Scrooge thing the way they did that. They did it kind of like on Thanksgiving and Christmas. They really wanted to give it to the workers. You just learn, you learn to get by," Zingg said.
Zingg is hoping to see his friends do more than get by -- he'd like to see them come out on top.
"There's a lot of things we can all do now. Hopefully we'll take the time and we'll use it right. That's what I hope everybody does. I pray for everybody," said Zingg.
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