JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) – The long-standing barge maker in Jeffersonville, Indiana, Jeffboat will close in the coming weeks, according to union representatives.
Workers told WDRB News on Friday that they were told the plant would shut down soon but neither the company nor union would confirm.
“It is with heavy hears that we confirm reports that Jeffboat … is shutting down,” Teamsters Local 89 said in a statement.
Employees say around 200 people currently work there but at one point the company employed thousands.
“It's what built the city of Jeffersonville,” Mayor Mike Moore said. “At one time they employed 13,000 employees back in the early 1940s.”
Jeffboat once boasted it was the largest inland shipyard in the country. Workers have built steamboats, barges, casino boats and LSTs for the U.S. Navy. It was especially busy during World War II.
Jeffboat's history goes back about 180 years. A shipyard under various ownership has been at its Market Street address since the mid-1800s.
The rumors of a shutdown have been looming for months. Just last month, Jeffboat announced its latest round of layoffs, affecting more than 200 employees. The company announced an earlier round of layoffs in November last year.
“The harsh reality is the demand for barges, isn't what it used to be,” Moore said. “I did not see the death blow that this is. We saw the market changing and I saw the market for the demand for barges dwindle.”
It’s unclear if current employees will be offered any severance packages.
“Nobody came out of this a winner,” Moore added. “It's a dark day for our city but it'll get better.”
You can read the union's full statement below:
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