Columbia oil well service lays off almost 90 workers

Almost 90 Baker-Hughes oil well service employees were shocked to find out they no longer had a job Thursday, and those laid off with families to feed are wondering what to do next.

Officials from the Baker-Hughes facility in Columbia called for a mandatory meeting last Wednesday and by Thursday morning their worst fears had been confirmed. Employee of 3 years, Bryan Sartin says it came without warning. "I just feel they could have done a better job of protecting the workers and making sure we still had a job and working with us instead of just coming out of the blue one day and saying hey we no longer need you and shutting the doors, go home."

County elected official Terry Broome says he was shocked when he found out the news, "It was a surprise to start with. We heard it one day and then the next day they shut down evidently." Shutting down without notice led some workers to question, "How, with the record profit margins the Columbia facility generated could it be it be shut down?" Some folks say it was do to an overpriced facility built in Shreveport, Louisiana. Either way, with 89 people out of work the ripple effect will be felt throughout Marion County.

Sartin says not only does it affect the employees but, for example Moore Oil in Columbia where Baker-Hughes buys its diesel. "Not only does it effect us, but we put a lot of revenue in these other companies." Marion County Board of Supervisor member Terry Broome says the impact will be far reaching, "They use a lot of services of different companies. The economic impact is going to be devastating." Services and products from fuel, tires, groceries, and any other imaginable purchased good will sustain a noticeable decrease, not to mention the hit in tax revenue from the city and county. Now, 89 families are left guessing on what to do next. Sartin says "Trying to find something. I've got a 2-year-old and a baby on the way and I've got a family to support and the bills are still coming." Broome says as a county official we have a skilled workforce, "So if somebody is looking for experience, they've got a lot of hands there that need a job, and our hearts go out to the people that lost their jobs. We just hope and pray they can find something else to do." We reached out to the Baker-Hughes corporation, but our phone calls were not returned.