Employees, community react to Newell Rubbermaid layoffs

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Newell Rubbermaid in Blount County is announcing plans to lay off 200 of its 600 workers there by September 1.

Rubbermaid hopes to cut costs and improve efficiency by moving a portion of its injection molding operations to Texas and Ohio.

Company spokesperson Kerry Carter says they'll try to make it as easy as possible for those affected.

"Right now of course, they have several months notice; we are already offering them job outplacement assistance, retraining assistance, and of course, they'll all receive sixty days notice and severance pay."

Carter expects all the changes to be implemented by September.

Some people are a little understanding, while some others are not.

In a statement, the company says they have been working with local officials for support, but Blount County Mayor Jerry Cunningham says this blindsided the county.

Company employee Vance Prindilbille says, "The new plant manager they brought in had a habit of closing plants down."

Prindible says he had a gut feeling a couple of months ago, things at Newell Rubbermaid would be changing. After a 7 am meeting today with all 600 employees, they did.

"They've been having us clean and do all this to keep our jobs and then come to find out we're the only ones losing our jobs."

200 people will be laid off from the company, saddening more than just workers.

Blount County Commission Chairman Dr. Robert Ramsey says, "The company has been a very good company and partner, and our hearts go out to those people that are affected adversely."

Mayor Cunningham in a statement said: "Blount County has been completely blindsided by this. In the past, other companies when they have even downsized have had the courtesy to visit with the different governmental entities relative to these kinds of things in as much it affects so many lives in Blount County, but it's also affecting those who know workers."

Kenneth Teffefeller knows some Newell Rubbermaid employees, and says, "Anytime you lay off anybody, it's a bad situation. Finding another job that you really like is hard to come by."

But the biggest impact is to the workers themselves.

Prindible says, "I guess start looking. I'm not going to wait till they tell me I'm done. I'm going to go ahead and start looking now."

Mayor Cunningham says anything they can do to help the worker situation, they will, adding that it would have been comforting to hear the remaining jobs would be left on a permit basis.


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