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Workforce services staff notified of job reductions

By Mike Elswick melswick@news-journal.com
Aug. 15, 2011 at 11 p.m.

About 75 East Texans who normally help people who are jobless could find themselves unemployed by the end of September.

The 75 people are employees of ResCare Workforce Services, who work for the local offices of East Texas Workforce Solutions, the Texas Workforce Commission said Monday.

ResCare is the local contractor that handles requests for unemployment, helps East Texans find jobs and provides worker re-training in Gregg and Smith counties.

The commission said about 75 employees were included in a WARN notice recently filed with the state. The notice is part of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act and requires employers to provide 60 days advance notice of plant closings or mass layoffs.

ResCare's parent company, Arbor E&T of Media, Pa., filed the notice with the state this past week. Kris McGill, director of human resources for Arbor, did not return calls Monday afternoon.

In the letter to the state, McGill said the positions range from case managers and clerical support to accounting specialists and top managers.

Randy Fowler, project manager for the ResCare offices on South High Street in Longview, said the firm lost its contract administered through the East Texas Council of Governments.

"ResCare and Arbor have had the contract since 2006," Fowler said. He was not sure if any ResCare employees would be hired by the new contractor.

"We're kind of in limbo right now," Fowler said Monday afternoon.

With the short time frame to get services transferred to the new contractor, he said he expected hiring and other efforts to take place soon.

"Things are going to escalate quickly," Fowler said. "We should know shortly who may get hired."

Wendell Holcomb, director of Workforce Development for East Texas Council of Governments, said the new contractor is Dynamic Workforce Solutions, a division of Kaiser Group.

Holcomb said ResCare and Arbor had been operating under a contract that was awarded one year at a time.

"Last year the (workforce development) board decided to put the contract out for requests for proposals," Holcomb said. "There had been some performance issues, and they just felt it was time to review the process."

He said the agency received three proposals, and Kaiser won the contract based on a number of criteria and not just who submitted the low bid.

"It's a very complex program and always a challenge when you make changes like these," he said.

Holcomb said ETCOG and Kaiser want to make the process as seamless as possible for clients.

"We want to maintain a high degree of customer service," he said.

Holcomb said as far as he was aware, Kaiser's contract with the East Texas Council of Governments is the first for the company in Texas.

Arbor's McGill said the company received word July 25 that its contract with East Texas Workforce Solutions would be canceled on Sept. 30.



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