Emergency funds for Goodyear workers come in nick of time
UNION CITY, Tenn. — It's not an easy transition but more than 500 former Union City Goodyear workers are back in class so they can go back to work. Those in charge of the program admit they had some concerns about paying for it.
The U.S. Department of Labor awarded the Tennessee Department of Labor a $3.5 million grant in November but at the time, they only gave the state 1.3 million.
Seven months later, that money is almost gone and those in charge of the area workforce development program wondered where the rest of the money went.
On Tuesday, they got some very good news just in time.
After 16 hard years at Goodyear, Mark Keeling lost his job. He and his former coworkers now spend six hours a day at the Tennessee Career Center for Goodyear in Union City.
"Go back two years, I would've never dreamed anything like this," Keeling said.
The father of two is learning to repair the same machines he worked with while at Goodyear, skills he hopes will help him become a better hire.
"You can't just sit back and watch everything pass by," Keeling said. "Sometimes, you got to make things happen for yourself."
In another classroom, you'll find more former Goodyear workers working to better themselves. While one group goes into the medical field, others like David Jones and John Glover take advantage of the welding program.
They can't wait until safety training is over so they can use the brand new equipment the program pays for.
But all this comes at a cost laid-off moms and dads can't afford to pay.
Vice President of Workforce Development Margaret Prater said the first portion of the grant would be spent by the end of the month and she would hate to tell the former Goodyear workers they have to go home.
"It would be very hard to say on July 1, 'I'm sorry but our money didn't come in,'" Prater said.
But it looks like the funding is coming and soon. That's good news for former Goodyear workers who admit they need all the help they can get.
"Without that money, I couldn't have done this," Keeling said.
Prater told Local 6 nearly a thousand former Goodyear employees take advantage of the program, with more than 500 enrolled in classes.