Handy Jon Employees Could Face High Fuel Costs

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ELDON - KOMU 8 News received an anonymous tip that a dozen employees from Handy Jon, a trash and portable toilet service, in Eldon will be forced to move offices. Owners are selling Handy Jon to WCA Waste Corporation in Lebanon, Mo. WCA offered employees new jobs in Lebanon, but Handy Jon employee Mike Fritch says many employees will not be able to afford gas for the hour-long drive to Lebanon.

KOMU-8 News contacted Handy Jon's owner Jim Vanderveld, who declined an on-camera interview and denied claims that there would be a meeting Tuesday afternoon to inform employees about the sale.

But, there was  a meeting, and WCA officials told current Handy Jon employees Tuesday they have less than 24 hours to decide to start working for WCA or leave. If employees show up to Handy Jon for work Wednesday morning, that means they have decided to work for WCA.

Fritch said workers who decide to continue with the deal will drive their trash trucks to Lebanon Wednesday. A shuttle service will then drive them back to Eldon at the end of the day. After that, they will report for work at WCA in Lebanon.

"They want us to make a decision, we have to go home, discuss it with our families... Do we want to stay here, or do we want to venture out an hour's drive? I'd say probably 80 to 90 percent aren't going to do it," Fritch said. He said he has worked for Handy Jon for the past 12 years. "They've been keeping it on the hush-hush until, all of a sudden, it went public... then all of a sudden they decide to tell us."

Fritch said he expects only three or four employees to commute to Lebanon. He said he hopes to collect unemployment while looking for a new job. Fritch also said WCA asked workers to try commuting to Lebanon for the next 30 days. Fritch said he might do this if it does not affect how long he can collect unemployment.

Owner Jim Vanderveld said fuel cost to Lebanon is a concern and all employees will be "taken care of" in the move.