Talks have begun between Newell Rubbermaid Inc. and United Steel Workers of America Local Chapter 302L on keeping some distribution jobs at the firm's Wooster, Ohio, plant after manufacturing operations close.
``We've entered into negotiations on that issue,'' USWA Local 302L Vice President Mike Kendall said March 5. ``Our hope is that we'll be able to salvage as many jobs as we can.''
Newell Rubbermaid spokeswoman Keri Butler said the firm ``is in discussions about the feasibility'' of keeping some distribution jobs in Wooster. In late 2003, Newell Rubbermaid announced plans to close the 850-employee site, which is one of the largest plastics molding plants in the United States.
Officials with the local and Newell Rubbermaid wrapped up talks about severance packages for employees March 1. Neither Kendall nor Butler could identify a number of jobs that could remain, or specify a timetable for getting a deal done. The plant is set to close by the end of June.
Kendall said one of the issues involved is how many other Newell Rubbermaid units would be involved. The Wooster site was the center of the firm's Home Products unit. Other plastic-related Newell Rubbermaid units include Commercial Products, Graco and Century baby products, Little Tikes toys, Goody combs and brushes and Sharpie pens.
If some jobs are saved, products made at a nearby Home Products plant in Mogadore, Ohio, probably will be distributed from Wooster, Kendall added.
Alpharetta, Ga.-based Newell Rubbermaid is coming off a year in which it lost almost $47 million, even though sales climbed 4 percent to almost $7.8 billion. The firm lost more than $200 million in 2002.
Since announcing the Wooster closing, Newell Rubbermaid has confirmed plans to close a Commercial Products plant in Greenville, N.C., and a Little Tikes plant in Sebring, Ohio. Earlier in 2003, the firm closed Rubbermaid plants in City of Industry, Calif.; Farmington, Mo.; Cleburne, Texas; Greer, S.C.; Canton, Ohio; and Winfield, Kan.