Labor office set to close

William Thompson

According to Bill Griffin, Employment Supervisor for Tucumcari’s Workforce Development Center, the New Mexico Department of Labor told its employees Wednesday that the workforce development center in Tucumcari would be closed effective Sept. 30.

State Representative Brian K. Moore, however, said Thursday afternoon that the Department of Labor had reconsidered and will now keep the workforce development center open an extra 90 days, or until the end of 2004.
“Members of the Legislative Finance Committee on which I serve talked with Department of Labor officials, and told them that their decision to close the workforce development centers in Tucumcari and other areas of eastern New Mexico was, perhaps, premature,” said Moore. “The Dept. of Labor officials now say they will look for ways to keep the centers open, but so far they are just giving them an extra 90 days.”

Carlos Castaneda, media spokeman for the New Mexico Dept. of Labor, said yesterday that the labor department will be using the 90 days from October through December to explore options for keeping the centers open on a permanent basis. “I met with Conroy Chino, Secretary of Labor yesterday, and he was very determined to look for ways to keep the offices open,” said Castaneda. “He has ten staffers working on this problem.” The Tucumcari office, located at 421 West Tucumcari Boulevard, has offered thousands of Quay County residents employment services over the years. Griffin said he was told at a labor department meeting in Roswell on Wednesday that federal funding for the employment centers has stopped.

“It comes down to the simple fact that there is no more federal funding,” said Griffin. I don’t won’t to comment as to what options will be open to people if our office closes. People would still be able to file for unemployment online.”
Griffin said he and his staff have helped thousands of Quay County residents. “We’ve put thousands of people to work,” said Griffin. “Our office has helped people not only from Quay County, but Guadalupe, Union and Harding counties as well.”

The Tucumcari Workforce Development Center provides current job listings in Quay County for those seeking employment and if the office is closed by the end of the year as planned those job listings will no longer be available.
Also, many employers have used the workforce development center as a resource for finding employees.
Quay County Commissioner Jeff Lewalling said the city and county governments, along with area business owners, should begin writing letters to government officials in Santa Fe. “I have already written a letter to the governor,” said Lewalling. “I mentioned how important the workforce development center was to our community, how important it is for people to have a place to look for work and how motels, restaurants and service stations depend on the center for employees. If we all get together on this and write letters, we might be able to keep the workforce development center from closing.,” said Lewalling.

Matt Apodaca stopped by the local workforce development office Thursday. He said he is looking for a second job.
“The people here at this office helped me find my current job at Mountain Road Truck Wash,” said Apodaca. “This is my third time coming to this office for job help.” Apodaca said he would regret the office closing. “If it closes down, I don’t know what options would be available to me if I need work in the future,” he said. “I guess I would just have to go door to door asking for work.”