Pillsbury plant closes in New Albany after more than 55 years
For decades, the Pillsbury plant in New Albany provided hundreds of jobs to the community. It is now closed after more than 55 year years.
NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) -- For decades, the Pillsbury plant in New Albany provided hundreds of jobs to the community. It is now closed after more than 55 year years.
About a year and a half ago, General Mills notified workers that it would close the plant in 2016.
Workers met at the union hall Friday to say goodbye to each other after the plant closed earlier this week.
What once was a bustling factory that used to smell heavenly, now sits empty.
"It smelled like cinnamon rolls, like dough, like uncooked dough," said Symantha Thomas, a production worker for 18 years. "I had 14 different job qualifications. My main job was I put icing in the little cups you get with your cinnamon rolls."
The Pillsbury signs have already come down off of the plant. Workers shared hugs Friday and looked back on decades of memories through slideshows and photo albums.
It was hard for many of them seeing the last products roll off the line.
"It was very sad, very emotional, but I'm really proud of my coworkers," Thomas said. "We hung tight and got everything out that the company needed from us."
More than 400 employees lost their jobs, many of whom made around $20 per hour.
"We spent a lot of time together," Thomas said. "During the last year, a lot of us worked seven days a week. We were a unit."
The plant has been operated by General Mills since 1959. The company says other plants across the country already make the same products. Those products were filled with carbs and trans fat and becoming less popular with the public.
The job loss does not end at Pillsbury. The adjoining Sonoco plant, which made packaging for the Pillsbury products, is closing as well, taking all 76 jobs with it.
But some Pillsbury workers are turning it into something positive.
"I am attending school at Ivy Tech," said Sook Pruitt, who worked at the plant for 26 years. "There are seven of us attending under the TAA program."
It is bittersweet time for the workers and New Albany, as many of the employees look for work when Pillsbury is all they have ever known.
"The community is really going to suffer for this loss, as well as all of us," Thomas said.
Thomas said General Mills worked out an agreement with the workers, including bonuses and retirement packages for those who qualify.
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