Ft. Deposit mayor questions Sejong’s hiring practices

Published 8:55 am Thursday, June 17, 2010

By Eason Franklin
The Lowndes Signal

The number of Lowndes County citizens employed with Sejong in Ft. Deposit has decreased since the plant’s construction nearly five years ago.

Fletcher Fountain,the mayor of Ft. Deposit, said in a meeting held June 14 at the Ft. Deposit Town Hall that it may be due to improper hiring practices on behalf of the company, but Todd Morgan, the plant manager, and Alvin Tucker of Sejong said the decrease was due to employee attendance.

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Sejong currently employs 142 workers at the Ft. Deposit factory with 49 percent being Lowndes County residents.

“We have hired people full time, given them one week of welder training, and those people wouldn’t come after three weeks of work,” said Morgan. “Now we hire everyone as temporary workers for 90 days.  25 percent of the people who move from temp to full time can’t pass a drug test.”

Employees are offered time off through vacation, time off in July, short-term disability, holidays and other programs offered through the company to assist workers with necessary time off, but the turnover rate for Sejong this year ranges between 28 and 30-percent.

Morgan stated the factory is a welding facility and though no one is forced, everyone has to know how to weld if they want to keep their jobs.

“Anyone that was laid off was because they are not a welder,” said Tucker. “We have the same employee handbook as day one.”

Suggestions were made to work with local schools to develop a co-op program for graduating students, whom have received proper training, to transfer directly to the factory for work.

Tucker said he has approached the Lowndes County Board of Education regarding the suggestion, but “the board let the ball drop on that issue.”

Morgan said the company will be hiring between 30 and 40 workers for a new line when production starts in November.