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Graham Packaging set to close Chicago plant

By: Jim Johnson

March 7, 2014

A total of 170 people will lose their jobs as early as May as Graham Packaging Co. LP is shuttering another site in Illinois, this time in Chicago.

The unit of Reynolds Group Holdings Ltd. filed paperwork under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification ACT, or WARN — indicating the first possible date for layoffs will be May 7.

WARN, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, requires “most employers with 100 or more employees to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs.”

Graham Packaging, a maker of blow molded containers, filed its WARN notification with the state on Feb. 18, which released all WARN notifications for Illinois at the end of that month.

As for why the plant is closing, the state listed one word as the reason: “Consolidation.”

“It will be absorbed into other facilities,” said Marcus Franklin, a regional human resources manager for the company.

The location makes containers for household products for a variety of customers, Franklin said.

The final date on which layoffs can take place is Sept. 30, according to the WARN information provided by the state.

But an exact date has yet to be determined as the company currently is in negotiations with the union representing impacted workers, Franklin said. “That’s to be determined.”

Franklin referred additional questions to Graham Packaging’s York, Pa., corporate office, which could not be reached for comment March 7. Officials at Local 138 of the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers International Union, which represents workers at the closing site, also could not be reached for comment.

News of the plant closure at 5000 South Major Ave. in Chicago follows a 2012 Graham Packaging’s decision to close a site in Vandalia, Ill. And that move came shortly after announced plant closures in Delta, Ohio, and West Chicago, Ill., Plastics News reported at the time.

Graham Packaging is the North America’s No. 2 blow molder in North America, posting sales of $2.63 billion in 2012. Amcor Rigid Plastics of Ann Arbor, Mich., is first.

Reynolds Group purchased Graham Packaging in June 2011 for $4.5 billion.