The Cargill Company sent shock waves through Milwaukee last week.
Cargill announced it was closing its slaughterhouse in the Menomonee Valley and laying off 600 workers. The company blames the country’s declining herd of beef cattle.
Under Wisconsin law, companies with more than 50 workers must give 60 days’ notice when closing a plant.
Cargill told its 600 workers on Wednesday; then shut the doors, two days later. We asked Governor Walker about the short notice.
“We’re going to make sure they have to comply with both the federal and state standards in that regard,” Walker says.
In January of 2013, another sizeable plant closed abruptly – the Golden Guernsey in Waukesha. It did not notify employees until they showed up for work and found the gate locked. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development said it was not given advance notice.
But the agency says Cargill is following the law. It provided written notice to the state last Wednesday and will continue paying those 600 workers until September 28. Mike Martin is spokesman for Cargill.
“We wanted to make sure that the employees that are impacted have the maximum amount of time to seek other employment while they were still collecting a paycheck, as opposed to the plant closing, people being out of work and starting the search for a job without any income coming in, other than maybe unemployment,” Martin says.
Martin says in addition to paying each employee for another 60 days, Cargill will provide them with severance, based on years with the company, and payment for unused vacation.
Cargill will hold a job fair Thursday at Serb Hall, for workers interested in jobs at Cargill facilities in other states.