By Craig Zammit and Associated Press
NEWTON, Iowa: Whirlpool Corporation has closed three manufacturing plants as part of its consolidation process, including the Maytag plant in Newton, Iowa, eliminating 4,500 local jobs.
Only last week Whirlpool Corporation chief executive officer Jeff Fettig met with Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack to discuss the future of the Maytag plant in Newton, Iowa.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Fettig stated in the meeting that the state was willing to be creative with incentives to keep the appliance manufacturer in Iowa.
However it now appears the 4,500 Maytag workers in Iowa have lost the battle and the manufacturing plant will be shut down along with two others in Herrin, Illinois and Searcy, Arkansas.
"The loss of jobs in this community will not be easy to swallow, which is why we must begin acting right now to support this community and its workers during their difficult transition period," said Iowa Governor Vilsack said in a statement.
In response to the closures, Fettig said in a stetement that the jobs cuts will “rapidly restore the competitiveness of the Maytag brands”.
"This is an important step in our integration process that will allow us to drive continuing performance improvements and will better align our brands, products and operations with the markets we serve domestically and globally."
Gary Jarvis, president of the International Aerospace and Machinist (IAM) Local Lodge 554, from the Herrin, Illinois plant saw the things differently, expressing frustration in an interview with the CBS affiliated KFVS-TV.
“You really get the feeling that (the plant closures) were the very end they sought from the beginning. That they bought us out with no real intentions of using us as a producer, but rather as buying our market share,” he said.
However the closures were not limited to manufacturing plants, Whirlpool also marked Maytag’s corporate headquarters and research centre in Newton, Iowa for closure, with the total jobs cuts representing almost six per cent of Maytag’s total employees.
Local workers suggest that a very small percentage of people have been offered jobs with Whirlpool, but Whirlpool claim that 1,500 jobs will be restored; many at its two Ohio plants, cutting job losses back to 3,000.
It will cost Whirlpool Corporation up to an estimated $US145 million for severance pay and relocation expenses for the administration staff affected.