Kimberly-Clark plant closures to impact 600 local workers

Published: Jan. 31, 2018 at 10:46 AM CST
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Kimberly-Clark has announced plans to close two facilities in the Fox Cities, a decision that would impact hundreds of local workers.

The company announced Wednesday plans to shutter the Cold Spring plant in Fox Crossing and Neenah Nonwovens.

Kimberly-Clark says Neenah Nonwovens will close within the next 18 months. The company is still working on a timeline for the closure of Cold Spring.

This announcement will impact about 600 workers at the two facilities.

“As part of the recently announced global restructuring program, which is occurring within the next three years, Kimberly-Clark has today confirmed it has informed employees at the Neenah (WI) Cold Spring Facility, and the United Steelworkers Local 2-482 leadership, of its proposed plan to close this facility. Also today, Kimberly-Clark informed employees at the Neenah (WI) Nonwovens Facility, WI of its plan to close this facility within the next 18 months. Any final decisions related to the Neenah (WI) Cold Spring Facility will be announced by the company after appropriate consultation and/or negotiations with the union and other labor stakeholders. Business decisions that impact our employees are among the most difficult ones to make - we don’t take such decisions lightly. We remain committed to treating our employees fairly and respectfully," reads a statement from the company.

It's part of the company's global restructuring plan that includes cutting 5,000 to 5,550 jobs, or 12-13 percent of its workforce.

The plan, announced in the release of its year-end results and 2018 outlook, includes the closure or sale of 10 facilities.

The company anticipates this plan will generate pre-tax savings of $500-$550 million by the end of 2021.

"This is devastating news. We were hopeful last week that our region would be spared, and today we learned that we have not been spared," Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson tells Action 2 News.

Nelson said this news is a serious hit for the Paper Valley, which has seen workers at paper companies losing jobs to shut downs.

"The last six months we have seen significant layoffs, and/or plant closures affecting now five or six plants," Nelson says. "The question people are asking is a pretty simple question, which is when is this going to end?"

Neenah Mayor Dean Kaufert says the company's decision comes down to saving money.

"They're losing market share in the diaper business, which is what's produced on Henry Street," Kaufert says. "The feminine products that are produced in Cold Spring, it's the restructuring, the need to be profitable, to make money."

The mayor is holding out hope for the Cold Spring facility.

"In further discussions that I had with the company they confirm to me or they affirm they're going to talk to the local union and see if there's any ways that they can make this plant continue to operate profitable," Kaufert says. "That means concessions, changes in benefits, things like that."

Kimberly-Clark's brands include Kleenex and Huggies.

"We will continue to be one of the largest employers in the Neenah area, and our North American Consumer business will continue to be headquartered in Neenah. We remain committed to this community," reads a statement from Kimberly-Clark.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker expressed confidence that the Department of Workforce Development will be able to help the laid off workers find new jobs.

"We have more jobs today than we have people to fill them and those are overwhelmingly in the Fox Valley, good-paying, family-supporting jobs that are very similar to the type of positions those individuals are in right now," said Gov. Walker. "So we are confident that with our Department of Workforce teams, we will be able to come into that region, come into that community and the employers at those sites, and connect them with opportunities that are equal to or greater than the ones they have right now."

In other dire news for the local economy, Bon-Ton announced it would close several Younkers stores in our area.

State Rep. Amanda Stuck (D-Appleton), released this statement:

State Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton) released this statement:

Kimberly-Clark makes decision about closing Northeast Wisconsin facility.

Posted by WBAY TV-2 on Wednesday, January 31, 2018

 Statement from Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) on the closing of Fox Valley paper mills: 

"Today's [Wednesday's] announcement that Kimberly-Clark is closing two mills in the Fox Valley and firing 600 workers is sad news for the workers and their families, for our paper industry and our state. It is especially concerning given that the closings come on the heels of Kimberly-Clark's announcement that they would use savings generated by the Trump/Republican corporate tax cut to fund the shutdown of these mills and to fire 600 Wisconsin workers. 

"While this may be good news for Kimberly-Clark's shareholders, it comes at the expense of 600 workers and their families who now face an uncertain future in the state where the governor seems, not only out of touch with the true state of our economy, but who is also unconcerned about the number of good paying jobs that keep disappearing. 

"The closing of these mills and resulting loss of jobs is especially troubling. Paper industry jobs are some of the best in Wisconsin. For generations, they have played a key role in creating and sustaining a strong middle class in our state.

"Unfortunately, the current governor, who can't seem to give enough of our tax dollars to Taiwanese giant Foxconn to help workers in northern Illinois, couldn't seem to care less. 

"Rather than commit billions of tax dollars to a gambit that at best will help a small part of it makes more sense to invest in Wisconsin's existing employers and employees, help local entrepreneurs from around the state start and grow new businesses and provide the education and infrastructure that will set Wisconsin apart from the competition. Doing that will not only help keep jobs like those being lost in the Fox Valley, but it will make all of Wisconsin attractive to outside investors for years to come." 

Statement from Rep. Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah) on Kimberly-Clark's announcement. 

"Today's difficult announcement by Kimberly-Clark comes on the heels of the company's announcement last week that outlined its global restructuring plan which will cut over 5,000 jobs and close 10 facilities world wide.

"I am committed to working with Kimberly-Clark and both local and state agencies to ensure that those individuals and families affected by the recent announcement have the resources and assistance they need moving forward. Kimberly-Clark is a vital part of the Neenah community and the compnay has emphasized that they will continue to be heavily invested in our area. Also, Neenah will remain the headquarters of Kimberly-Clark's North American Consumer Business. 

"The Fox Cities community and the state of Wisconsin stand ready to meet this challenge and assist those affected by this announcement. If constituents have any questions or concerns, please reach out to my office and we will be ready to assist you." 

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