Muncie job fair offers opportunity, despair over economy
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, IN - John Johnson has seen one mill after another close, but the journeyman carpenter always had another job to go to until recently.
"I just want to go out and do something," said the veteran millwright waiting for the 6th congressional district job fair to begin on Tuesday. He feels at 50 something, he's too old to get another job besides being told he was overqualified for other jobs he sought.
Johnson shook Congressman Mike Pence's hand after he talked to human resources representatives of Keihin Aircon North America who wore those white uniforms seen in all Asian manufacturers like Honda, Toyota and Kia. Amy Sokel, Keihin human resources director, said the company needed 20 more production workers,
A few hundred people passed through the doors of Worthen Arena at Ball State University to find a new job amid a youth volleyball camp working out in the gym.
Jake Conyer, dressed in a tee shirt and shorts, was looking for a better job and more money than a manufacturer in New Castle where $8 an hour is the entry level pay.
Conyer is like thousands of people in Delaware County who work at call centers, Progress Rail or other machine shops where $10-$12 an hour is the going wage.
That was something Mayor Dennis Tyler spoke about when he pointed out how the state's unemployment rate hung around 8 percent while another 15 percent were underemployed.
Pence, who has nearly $10 million from contributors to be Indiana's next governor, said the job fair was an opportunity to change lives and enrich families by putting people back to work.
More than 65 companies, the most being manufacturers in eastern Indiana, came to fair and all had openings to offer. While applicants appeared to be down, there were some on the spot job offers, Pence said, while others took the traditional approach of going online and filling out applications and questionnaires to apply.
The list of employers included plenty of headhunters like Manpower, Continental and Pro Resources that constantly look for a workforce to serve their clients.And there also was Ball State University, Ivy Tech Community College and Harrison College all looking for instructors and other help to begin the upcoming school year.
For Pence, the job fair has been a tradition that also is a trick bag for the congressman who has voted in favor of employers and against workers, according to the Indiana AFL-CIO.
In recent years, Pence voted against extended unemployment benefits, and last week shut off debate and stopped amendments to the Bring Jobs Home Act that eliminates tax loopholes that reward companies to take jobs overseas.
When asked how to create more jobs in the state, Pence gave his standard response as repealing Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Nancy Guyott. president of the Indiana AFL-CIO, said Pence's record did not match his rhetoric in creating jobs by trying to block of Bring Jobs Home Act.
"It was a vote to block millions of American jobs from coming back home," she said.
Pence said jobs would be created by abolishing Obamacare that would raise taxes and costs to employers required to provide health care to employees.
The low numbers at the job fair was attributed to not getting the word out, according to Barbara Street who heads the Alliance for Strategic Growth that runs the state's Work One office. She also suggested that many people just apply online which is the requirement of most employers who only screen and interview prospective applicants at the end of the process.