Laid off on Labor Day

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News 12 at 11, September 3, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---The Castleberry's plant in Augusta is still shut down after a nationwide botulism outbreak in July, costing more than 300 people their jobs.

Pink slips have since gone out to 13 full-time employees and a host of temporary workers are also out of work. Jon Coronel worked Quality Control at the plant for four months before the massive recall. Word of his future at the plant came last week in the mail.

"I opened it up and it's a notice of separation. It's got the last day that I worked and it's got the reason." Coronel says of the letter. The reason, terminated due to a reduction in force from a business interruption.

"I knew I was at the bottom of the food chain because I was the most recent Quality Control Employee but I just assumed it wouldn't be me for some reason."

But it was, and he isn't the only one. He's one of hundreds of Castleberry's employees who's last two months were filled with uncertainty.

Now, one thing is finally clear for Jon. "When I got the letter, it was a real eye-opener for me. You need to find a job and you need to find one quickly."

The 26-year-old father of one spent his life savings on child support and bills, trying to buy time until word came to get back to work. Even though it's not the word he was looking for, he says he's glad to at least know something after two months of waiting.

"It's best not to dwell on the past. It's just time to move on."

Castleberry's Human Resources Director Bob Bowen last announced the plant plans to reopen sometime in October. When asked about other possible layoffs, he had no comment.

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