For the second time in three months, a Southern Illinois community is facing the end of its biggest employer. In December, Herrin faced the closing of the Whirlpool washing machine manufacturing facility.
Yesterday, officials in Pinckneyville learned that the Technicolor Universal Media Services plant would be closing its doors by March 31, putting another 440 Southern Illinoisans out of work.
The back-to-back blows from major employers in the region, left the area reeling from the economic impact. The Whirlpool plant, in its various incarnations, had been a part of the Herrin community for more than six decades. They closed their doors December 20. The plant had employed more than 1000 people.
Union officials at the Whirlpool plant, where they had manufactured Maytag brand name washers, were able to negotiate severance packages for the workers, including up to several thousand dollars in severance pay and up to six months of continued health insurance. In addition, they will be eligible for almost two years of unemployment compensation and federal grants for retraining.
Union officials at the Technicolor facility are just beginning the negotiations for severance packages as the plant closing was announced yesterday. The plant had manufactured compact discs and DVDs for distribution throughout the United States.
In a prepared news release, Thomson SA, the French media and entertainment company that owned the Technicolor facility, said that the closing is part of a restructuring that will result in the loss of 1,200 jobs in North America.
The packaging and distribution activities that had been part of the Pinckneyville plant will be sent to plants in Michigan, Georgia, Tennessee, Canada and Mexico. The manufacturing portion of the operations will be transferred to a site in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Company officials said the plant closing was necessary due to a decreased demand for standard dvds and an increased consumer demand for lower prices.
Pinckneyville is a community of about 5,500 people an hour south and east of St. Louis, Missouri. Herrin, where the Whirlpool facility had been located, is a community of 11,000 in south, central Illinois, about two hours from St. Louis.
Both plants had attracted worked from the surrounding communities as well and were among a dying breed in the region, manufacturing plants.
State officials had not announced Wednesday night how they will be assisting those left jobless by the new plant closure, but the state’s department of economic affairs was active in negotiating the severance benefits for those affected by the Whirlpool layoffs and will likely be active in the negotiations at Technicolor as well.