Graphic Packaging to close in Menasha

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Graphic Packaging International Inc. will close its paper converting plant at 160 Washington St. by the end of the year, laying off 228 employees.

Workers were told Monday that layoffs will be done in phases starting in a little more than 60 days.

“We made the decision to close the facility based on the capabilities of the plant and its supply chain infrastructure. It didn’t fit into our portfolio anymore,” said Sue Appleyard, senior manager of corporate communications in the company’s Atlanta office. “We have acquired other facilities recently that have state-of-the-art capabilities.”

She said those newer plants are in Minnesota, Iowa and on the East Coast.

The 228 affected employees in Menasha included hourly, salaried, union and nonunion workers.

Employees were encouraged to apply for jobs in the company’s only other Wisconsin plant in Wausau. “They can also apply anywhere in the Graphic Packaging system,” Appleyard said.

The company has seven paper mills and about 50 converting plants.

The Menasha facility manufactured folding cartons for consumer goods, mostly in the food industry. She said the plant was built in 1946.

Mark Westphal, a Graphic Packaging employee as well as president of the Fox Valley Area Labor Council, was disappointed that the company had not upgraded the plant in recent years or offered it for sale.

"It's still capable of making money," he said. "It's typical corporate greed to cast people aside and not offer them hope or opportunity that the plant could be picked up by a competitor. They're just closing down."

He said unionized workers at the plant are represented by two unions, USW Local 2-148 and IBT/GCC Graphic Communication Council Local 77P.


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