First round of job losses could happen in late November as efforts to keep prison open continue

Just days after Congressman Kevin McCarthy was told by the Bureau of Prisons that moves to close the Taft Correctional Institution were being suspended, Kern County was notified by Management Training Corporation that layoffs at the federal prison could start next month.

MTC notified the Kern County Board of Supervisors last week via a WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) Act letter that the first round of layoffs could start on Nov. 23 with additional layoffs to follow in December and January.

The Bureau of Prisons made the surprise announcement on Oct 1 that it would close TCI on Jan. 31, eliminating 340 jobs and moving more than 2,000 inmates, including criminal aliens in the low security main facility and several hundred minimum security inmates in a satellite camp.

The BOP said soil settlement has resulted in damage that would cost $100 million to repair.

The decision sparked immediate protests from elected representatives, and Congressman Kevin McCarthy's objections resulted in a decision by the BOP to suspended activities related to the closure and to meet with McCarthy's office to explain the decision.

Mayor dave noerr said the letter was to be expected, but said efforts to keep it open would continue.

"Obviously it's a diappointment for the hard-working professionals that have been operating that facility," he said. "But I would thell them this: ' Don't give up because there area a lot of people fighting very hard for you ande working to keep that place open."

The WARN Act letter did not specify how many employees would be involved in the first round of layoffs.

"Due to unforeseeable business circumstances, normal, staff attrition and fluctuating inmate counts, we can't reasonably estimate the exact dates when staff will be reduced, however, we estimated the first round of layoffs will occur on Nov. 23 with the remaining reductions in December 2019 and or January 2020," the letter states.