Life after layoffs; East Texans share stories of hope - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Life after layoffs; East Texans share stories of hope

Russ Zumwalt Russ Zumwalt
Clinton Pruitt Clinton Pruitt

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Severance package negotiations have begun for nearly 500 Carrier employees.

Those workers face losing their jobs by the end of 2013 as a result of Carrier closing the Tyler facility. 

In the coming months, many of those workers will be looking for new work, possibly new careers. Two East Texans who were laid off from different businesses a few years ago share their stories of hope. 

From the view from Chopper 7, it appears it's work as usual at Carrier. But in reality it's the first week since Carrier employees found out their jobs will soon be gone. Russ Zumwalt knows the feeling. After working 20 years at Goodyear, he was laid off in 2006.

"There's some of the employees there that's worked with me and some of them have left Goodyear to go there to get jobs, and you never know exactly when something like this is going to happen," said Zumwalt. 

He decided to take a class at TJC's Small Business Development Center. He says it was the best decision of his life. Now, he owns the franchise Mister Sparky.

"We're a home service provider. We're America's on time electrician," he said. 

Clinton Pruitt was laid off from CB&I in 2009 after five years on the job.

"They slowly started shutting it down in March and it lasted all the way into December, and I was the last one out the gate, locked the gate behind me," said Pruitt. 

About a year later, he enrolled at TJC. He will graduate in may with a Business Management degree at the age of 55.

"I'm all excited because they say when you're old you can't learn, well I got a 3.72 grade average so I think it's doing great over there," said Pruitt.  

From life after being laid off, now soon to life after a degree, he takes it all day by day.

"As long as I continue doing what I'm doing and follow God's will," said Pruitt. "He's got something planned for me. Wherever He leads, I'll go." 

As for Zumwalt, his business as an electrician is growing. He says no matter how bleak the situation appears, never lose hope. 

"It's so easy to get discouraged, but you can't afford to get discouraged. You've got to keep on keeping on," said Zumwalt.

Words he hopes Carrier employees will remember in the months to come.

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