(Associated Press) — General Mills is pushing ahead with its planned closure of a southern Indiana Pillsbury plant and a neighboring business that together employ more than 400 workers under an agreement the company reached with the union that represents those workers, the union’s president said Thursday.
The company announced last month it would close its Pillsbury plant and neighboring Sonoco business in the Ohio River city of New Albany by mid-2016, pending discussions with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union.
Union Local 33G President Roger Miller announced Thursday that the local had reached a closing agreement with General Mills following negotiations last week. If union members agree to the terms, layoffs are tentatively scheduled to begin early next year.
“The plant is closing,” Miller told the (Louisville, Kentucky) Courier-Journal.
Under the closure agreement, plant workers will receive a $1 an hour retention bonus until the closure and would be eligible for retirement benefits. Miller said pensions, which are paid monthly, include a fixed dollar amount multiplied by each worker’s years of service.
The Pillsbury plant moved in 1959 from Louisville to New Albany, and is the city’s fifth-largest employer. Workers make crescent rolls, pizza dough and other refrigerated baked goods.
“It’ll be a blow to the community,” Robert Mann, a retired New Albany firefighter, said Thursday while stopping at a credit union near the plant.
Miller said the company didn’t accept New Albany officials’ proposal to give General Mills $7 million in economic incentives if it kept the plant open for five years.
“They said while it’s a great package, it’s not near enough to keep the site there,” he said, adding that the company will save more than $30 million a year by closing its New Albany operations.
General Mills spokeswoman Kelsey Roemhildt said the company planned additional talks with union officials this week. “We’re completing steps in the process,” she said.
Over the last few years, the company shifted manufacturing of some product lines to its more modern plant in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.