Hundreds vie for handful of Tyson job openings

VICSBURG — About 100 people were in line when the doors opened at the Vicksburg WIN Job Center, where applications were taken from those interested in 24 job openings at Tyson Foods’ plant in Warren County.

But 90 minutes later, some 900 names of applicants had been written on lists circulating among the job-seekers.

Office manager Timothy Crudup told The Vicksburg Post last Friday’s crowd far exceeded the usual number of job candidates seen at the facility, and he said it’s a sign of a bleak local jobs market.

“I’ve been here 11 years, and yeah, it’s more than last year, too,” he said.

Unemployment in Warren County was 11.7 percent in September, up from 11 percent in August. Mississippi’s rate was 10.6 percent for the month, up half a percent. Figures for October have not been released.

The company was looking to fill manual labor and support positions that pay $8.60 an hour and involve straightening products on conveyor belts and handling 10- to 40-pound product cases at the plant. U.S. minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

The plant currently employs about 500.

Crudup said the positions were advertised only at the plant. None was posted in the employment office or online.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” said Donald Jordan of Vicksburg, one of several left wondering whether they’d be interviewed after a list of job-seekers was destroyed and new ones were started. “Half the people out here came all the way from Jackson. I’m out here since 4:30 in the morning.”

“I’ve been out here since 5 a.m.,” said Chris Johnson of Vicksburg. “They took the list to the back of the line.”

Word of the jobs apparently spread beyond the plant through word of mouth. Some said they were told by company officials to show up as early as they could to apply.

“Two supervisors personally told me to come out here,” said Maurice Hodge, of Edwards, one of many who said they were out of a job. Hodge said he sought work on advice from his parole officer.

Vicksburg police were called to the center, after office workers arrived and stayed to control the sometimes-chaotic crowd for almost two hours. Police Chief Walter Armstrong said no arrests were logged and no injuries reported.

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