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32 lose jobs at Hillsville plant

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — The Virginia Employment Commission office in Galax reports that 32 Bucyrus employees from the company’s plant in Hillsville sought help after being laid off from the international heavy equipment maker.

“All I know is they walked in one day last week and the employees told us there were 32 employees laid off permanently,” explained Bill Webb of the VEC.

Bucyrus had acquired the company formerly known as DBT, a manufacturer of equipment used in underground coal mining, in 2007, according to information from Bucyrus’ Web site. The site goes on to describe Bucyrus International as “one of the world’s leading manufacturers of large-scale equipment used in surface mining.”

Shelley Hickman, Bucyrus’ director of communications, blamed the soft economy for layoffs around the country.

“The global economic downturn over the past several months has significantly reduced short-term demand for certain commodities that are produced by our customers in the mining industry,” Hickman said. “As a result, demand for equipment has also been reduced, so we had to adjust our personnel as a result.

“We believe these reductions will align our resources with the production requirements. We are continuously monitoring our markets to ensure our resources remain aligned with our global demand.

“There aren’t any future plans to make any further reductions,” she said.

Webb said he didn’t have any success in reaching Bucyrus officials so he doesn’t know how many employees they had before the layoffs in Hillsville or after.

“I wish we did know, so we would know how it affects the economy,” Webb said.

The Virginia Employment Commission officials continue to help process the workers’ job claims and request for services.

Webb understands that these workers may qualify for more assistance under new rules in the Trade Readjustment Act.

That’s up to the Labor Department.

Under the new regulations, people can qualify for assistance even if competition from overseas companies did not lead to their job loss, Webb said.