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Oscar Mayer Plant In Madison To Close

Approximately 1,000 Workers Will Lose Their Jobs

Maxwell GS (CC-BY)

Oscar Mayer’s manufacturing plant and corporate headquarters in Madison will close in early 2017, a move that is expected to result in the loss of about 1,000 jobs.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin announced the company’s decision Wednesday afternoon. He told reporters that Oscar Mayer officials had informed him of their plans late on Tuesday.

The mayor said that while he didn’t know what the precise number of layoffs would be, it seems that about 700 manufacturing workers and 300 office workers will lose their jobs over the next 12 to 24 months. The rest of the plant’s employees would have the chance to move to the company’s new headquarters in Chicago.

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“The impact on Madison and the metro area has got to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Soglin.

There have been worries about layoffs at the plant ever since Kraft — Oscar Mayer’s parent company — merged with Heinz earlier this year. This summer, 165 people at the corporate offices lost their jobs as part of layoffs nationwide.

Oscar Mayer has had a long history in Madison, having opened its manufacturing plant in the city nearly 100 years. The company has used the city as its headquarters since 1957.

“It was one of those places that was always there and we thought was always going to be there,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.

Parisi said that while the loss of 1,000 jobs is a shock to the community, he remains optimistic.

“We are not in the depth of a recession right now. We are in a period where we are experiencing economic growth. We are in a period where we have employers who are looking for hard-working, skilled laborers just like those folks working at Oscar Mayer,” he said.

Pat Schramm, the executive director of the region’s workforce development board, said a rapid response plan will be launched to get workers into new jobs.

“There has never been a better time in this community for this to happen, because all the relationships are in place to make the transition for the workers as quickly as possible,” said Schramm.

The Oscar Mayer plant in Madison isn’t the only one shutting down: Six other sites in the U.S. and Canada will close, resulting in the loss of nearly 3,000 jobs.

No one from Oscar Mayer was available for comment.

John Wilson contributed reporting to this story.

Clarification: A prior version of this story included wording that could have been interpreted to mean that 1,200 Oscar Mayer employees will be given the chance to move to Chicago, which is not the case. That language has been clarified.