MBI lays off dozens of workers

By Brittany Pieper – email

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) – Since this past summer, MBI has hired a few hundred workers in their Shreveport plant. In the last week they laid off about 40 people, or nearly 20% of the company's workforce.

"To even hear that they were laying off period was kind of a shock because we were so busy and all of a sudden they just out of no where started laying people off," said Price Henderson who lost his job in the layoffs, and says he feels MBI let him down.

"I've got car notes, insurance, house notes, bills. Especially doing it right after Christmas, spending all that money. It kind of puts you in a bind," he said.

MBI says they had to lay people off because they have about only half as many contracts as they did at the start of 2010. They needed lots of employees to finish those jobs by the end of last year, but they can't afford to keep them on any longer.

"We lost millions of dollars over the last couple of months of 2010 just keeping those people on board so we could get them through Christmas. Now, we have to think fiscally of what we have to do and responsibly to keep the doors of this company open," said CAO Rick Fayard.

MBI says a shaky economy and the fact that the new congress hasn't set a budget yet hurts them, but they hope to increase the number of contracts and rehire employees, like Henderson, later this year.

These layoffs come just a few months after the city pressured MBI to start hiring or they would evict them.  MBI leases the former Beaird buildings from the city.  MBI says the agreement requires them to manufacture and keep a certain number of former Beaird employees.  The company says they still have fulfilled both of these requirements.

"Our arrangement with the city was and still is that eventually we hope to fulfill the promises that we've made to the city. We would like to fill up these buildings out here. If not just MBI people, then maybe some other 3rd party who would come in and take a portion of the building and increase the number of people that we have in the work force out here. We'd like to do that. We don't like letting people go," said Fayard.

Many of the people laid off were workers contracted through 3rd parties, so they hope those other companies can help put those people into new jobs.

The city would not comment on the layoffs today, but they said they will have MBI come to share a report at the next city council meeting on January 11th.

©2011 KSLA-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.