Posted: Jun 20, 2012 6:45 AM by Melissa Anderson - MTN News
Updated: Jun 20, 2012 9:15 AM
HELENA- Heritage Propane, which was once touted as a Fortune 500 Company, is now set to lay off workers in Helena.
Heritage Propane announced it's sale to AmeriGas last October and the transaction was final in January. Since that time, 90 workers have been scrambling to find new jobs.
One of them is Stephen Sichilima who has been spending the six weeks looking for work. His daily routine is to go to the library and search for accounting positions. Sichilima was let go from Heritage Propane only six months after he was hired.
"Thank God I have a college education. Right now I'm in transit, in limbo, trying to think about what to do next," he noted.
"I've spoken with several that have found new jobs either with Student Assistance Foundation or other places, but I think there are still some out there that haven't and we won't know until after the July 2nd layoffs," Helena Job Service supervisor Carol Rule said.
But unlike Sichilima, many of those working at Heritage were employed for years, and with their experience and pay scale, the job will be hard to match.
"We've always known that Heritage was a really good employer to work for because of the wage and the benefits." said Rule.
"I get to get unemployment for now while I sort out my situation going forward. But I think about the colleagues that I've left at Heritage Propane. These are people that have worked there for 15-25 years. What are they going to do and what kind of training can AmeriGas even provide?," Sichilima said.
Rule estimates that about 50% of those being laid off already have jobs; she says some will go on to further their education while others like Sichilima will be in limbo for a while.
She hopes the Job Service's rapid response workshop will help prepare them for their impending layoffs.
In the meantime, AmeriGas is offering severance pay to those employees to try to help them through the transition.