USW Calls on Wisconsin Senate to Vote on Kimberly-Clark Plan

Local 2-482 of the United Steelworkers (USW) union is calling on the Wisconsin state Senate to hold an immediate vote on a legislative subsidy package designed to keep two Kimberly-Clark manufacturing plants in operation.

Kimberly-Clark, a multinational personal hygiene and paper product giant, announced in late January that it would shut down 10 plants around the world and eliminate 5,500 jobs. Those cuts included the plants in Neenah and Fox Crossing, Wis.

Since then, the USW has been gathering information and meeting with company and state officials in an effort to preserve good jobs and keep the plants in operation.

“We believe that there is a clear path to change the cost profile of the plants in a way that ensures that the high-quality work force remains in place,” said Local 2-482 President Dave Breckheimer, who is also a Kimberly-Clark worker. “It is unfair for the state Senate to continue to delay this subsidy package.”

The company, founded in nearby Neenah, Wis., in 1872, considers the Fox Crossing facility its “flagship” location.

“The company’s behavior since the announcement is disturbing,” said Local 2-482 member Karmen Jones. “Even as company officials are calling the plant a ‘flagship’ facility, they are asking workers to make concessions that would cut their average labor costs by more than $20,000 per person.”

Senate officials have said that they are awaiting word from Kimberly-Clark officials before voting on the package.

“These jobs have been the backbone of the middle class in Northeast Wisconsin for generations,” said Michael Bolton, director of USW District 2, which includes Wisconsin and Michigan. “On behalf of the workers in Neenah and Fox Crossing, the USW is asking the Senate to vote on the bill now and ensure it includes provisions to protect all of the Kimberly-Clark jobs in Wisconsin.”

The State Assembly voted 56-37 in February to approve the Kimberly-Clark aid proposal, but the plan has been stalled in the state Senate since then.

“What is happening in the Senate is an indictment on what is wrong with politics in America,” Bolton said. “The GOP-controlled Senate is refusing to conduct a vote until the company approves the package and after they have used their Republican allies to help extract concessions from workers.

“It’s time that these politicians remember that they represent the citizens of Wisconsin, not multi-billion-dollar corporations.”

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