Pillsbury workers hold vigil to pray for future of New Albany plant
NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) - After learning their New Albany plant could close, Pillsbury employees reached to a higher power with prayer.
"Would you bow your heads with me," said Richard Evans. leading a prayer vigil Sunday outside the Pillsbury plant in New Albany on Sunday. “Give them wisdom, give them courage and give them strength."
Employees are hopeful that good news comes from top leaders inside General Mills.
"We've asked the state for help. We've asked the local government for help. We've got friends in the community involved, and now we're asking God to help us as well," said Union President Roger Miller, who's given more than 30 years of his life to the company.
"Losing this job is like a death in the family," said Miller, telling WDRB that the news takes time to process. “It's hard to come to work realizing there's an end when you think that, you know, end is retirement and now the end is a closure."
If everything is finalized and the plant does shut down, more than 500 people from two locations will be out of a job. For many at the plant, these are jobs that they've held for more than 30 years.
"I started here in 1966 and I graduated in 2009," Nancy McDevitt said.
"I still have my retirement from General Mills and my supplemental health care,” McDevitt said. “I mean, you just don't find a job like this anymore. They're just too hard to find, and we want them to stay."
The New Albany plant has been open for 55 years.
General Mills recently told employees that other locations make similar products, and since most are loaded with carbohydrates and trans fat, they're becoming less popular.
If the plant closes in 2016, hundreds of lives will be changed.
"Married couples, young married couples buying houses, just having children together ... just horrible. And there's really no opportunity to go to another plant around here," said Clifford Smith, who's starting his 21st year at Pillsbury.
Richard Evans has worked at the location for more than 19 years.
"I'm just taking it day-by-day,” Evans said. “I want to finish my time here. If we stay open, great. If not, then I guess I'll start looking to see what I can find."
Miller will be meeting with General Mills executives in February to try and reach an agreement.
Workers plan to hold these vigils every Sunday until then.
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