UNION PRESIDENT: Pillsbury plant will leave New Albany in 18 months
"It was a good job," said Walter Smith, an employee who's worked at the plant for about 11 years.
Smith's two daughters also work at the Pillsbury plant. He says one has been there for 19 years and the other for 16.
"Everybody's kind of quiet, ya know, I guess disappointed," Smith said about his co-workers.
According Roger Miller, president of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, the union that represents the Pillsbury employees, the union has already negotiated a closure agreement, which it will present to the employees for consideration Thursday.
The employees will have the option of voting to accept or reject the agreement, according to Miller.
In January, General Mills announced plans to close the Pillsbury factory located in New Albany – though a statement released said that, at the time, the decision could be subject to union negotiations.The closure would put about 400 employees out of a job.
"They can make all of our product in two different locations, both those locations are non union, so they will be cheaper," Miller said.
Earlier this week, New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan said his city offered $7 million in tax incentives to keep the Pillsbury plant from leaving.
"It's a $31 million a year cost savings to the company closing us and so $7 million over five years, while it was a great offer from the city and the mayor did a wonderful job, it was just not enough in the end," Miller said.
Many of the employees were making more than $20 per hour. Miller says the pay and benefits will be hard to match.
The closure agreement he's presenting to employees will include pensions, closure bonuses, and raises until the plant closes.
Miller says that will happen in June or July of 2016.
"It's not just 450 jobs or 490 jobs," he said at the time. "It is the the ripple effect that it has on the entire community."Gahan also said the city was already working on plans to help place those employees in new jobs if Pillsbury does leave.
The fate of adjoining Sonoco is also unclear because employees there package the Pillsbury products.
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