Citing delays in the tax-abatement process, Rubbermaid Home Products has decided not to seek the tax breaks for a factory near Canton, Ohio. The soon-to-be-closed baby products plant is to reopen next year as a Home Products factory.
Rubbermaid Home Products remains committed to the factory in Perry Township, Ohio, a spokeswoman said.
``We're still planning on going in there. We're just not asking for abatements. The abatement process, there were delays in it, and we need to make business decisions and move forward,'' said Keri Butler.
Wooster, Ohio-based Rubbermaid Home Products is a division of consumer products giant Newell Rubbermaid Inc. Newell Rubbermaid is consolidating all production of its Graco and Century car seats and other baby products in a plant in Macedonia, Ohio. The Canton-area factory, a former Century Products plant, will have an official closing; then will reopen as Rubbermaid Home Products, Butler said.
A union official for production workers at the factory said Rubbermaid Home Products has told employees they will have to reapply for new positions.
In the spring, when Newell Rubbermaid officials announced they would close the baby products plant, one factor they cited was outdated equipment. The proposed 10-year tax abatement was to cover new investments.
Rubbermaid Home Products still plans to make ``modifications'' to the factory to get it ready to produce plastic housewares and other products, Butler said. She declined to give details.
``Rubbermaid Home Products will take ownership of the building sometime in early 2003,'' Butler said.
She said the company looks at tax abatements at all of its factories. ``Just because you explore the abatement process doesn't mean you're committed to the abatement process.''
Perry Township Trustee Jim Holms said local officials are confident the plant will be opened. He said Rubbermaid Home Products could expand it in the future.
A union official said right now the factory still is making baby products. ``They've taken very little product out. It's still going full-force,'' said Guy A. DeVito Jr.
DeVito, a business representative for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said IAM Local 22 represents about 140 workers in assembly and shipping and receiving. Plastics workers are not unionized at the Perry Township plant, he said.
DeVito said IAM and the company did negotiate a shutdown agreement and severance package. But he said the two sides have not addressed whether the union will represent workers in the new Rubbermaid Home Products operation. ``They've been told to reapply'' for jobs, he said.
``What we'd like to have is the union there, naturally,'' he said. ``But the most important thing is, we'd like to have the existing employees there, still working there.''