MAYFIELD, Ky. — A candle factory destroyed by a tornado last month is laying off 250 employees who cannot be transferred to a second facility.
But a spokesman for Mayfield Consumer Products said Friday evening the company is "committed to the rehiring of everyone and to meeting or exceeding the employment levels it had prior to the tornado."
Mayfield Consumer Products filed a notice this week with Kentucky's Office of Employer and Apprenticeship Services, stating the closure of its plant after the Dec. 10 storm affected 501 people.
The company was working to open a new factory about 10 miles away in Hickory, Kentucky, when the tornado struck. It plans to get the site "up and running as soon as practical," according to the notice.
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About half of the Mayfield plant's employees will transfer there, according to a list included with the notice.
Those not offered a transfer are expected to be permanently laid off, the document states.
However, Bob Ferguson, a candle factory spokesman, told The Courier Journal in a statement the company will offer positions to everyone who received a termination notice.
"The company is absolutely committed to standing up new manufacturing facilities in Mayfield, doing it as promptly as it can," Ferguson said, mentioning that "outreach" to the employees who received notices this week is "ongoing."
"We hope they all come back," Ferguson added.
Megan Wilder, who began working at the Mayfield factory about a month before the tornado, said she was surprised to receive a message from a co-worker asking if she'd received a letter about her employment status.
The co-worker had been terminated with no option for rehiring. When Wilder checked her status on the company's internal website, she learned she'd been let go as well.
"I was not given a phone call, nothing," Wilder said. "… I just got online and it said you don't have a job anymore."
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Wilder worked in general production at the factory and said she'd hoped to be transferred so she could maintain an income while seeking another job.
She recently qualified for disaster unemployment benefits and will receive about $170 per week — just enough to pay rent, she said.
Alaina Smith, a supervisor at the Mayfield factory, said she received a call from the company Thursday letting her know it would resume production Jan. 24 at the Hickory plant.
The company will begin with a day shift but intends to increase to three shifts by February, she said.
MCP came under fire after its Mayfield factory collapsed with 110 people inside during the tornado.
Nine people died, including a deputy jailer assigned to supervise people in the jail's custody who were employed by the factory as part of a work program.
Sheila Weisenberger, who is living with family in Murray, said she received a letter Thursday informing her she would be laid off and that the company "didn't know" if a new spot would open for her.
Weisenberger said she was injured at the factory the night of the tornado and has since received workers compensation.
But apart from $1,000 given to all non-contracted employees by MCP, Weisenberger said the company has not provided injured workers other financial support, despite making it sound like more would be available.
“We haven’t seen any of it,” she said.
This story has been updated.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Mayfield candle factory may lay off employees following KY tornado