Original Story: chicagotribune.com
Kraft Heinz announced Wednesday that it will move Oscar Mayer and the company's U.S. meats business from Madison, Wis., to Chicago — a move that will add 250 jobs to Chicago's Aon Center.
The company also announced plans to consolidate its production facilities during the next two years, which will result in the shutdown of seven North American manufacturing facilities: Fullerton, Calif.; San Leandro, Calif.; Federalsburg, Md.; St. Mary's, Canada; Campbell, N.Y.; Lehigh Valley, Pa., and the one in Madison.
The closings will result in the loss of about 2,600 manufacturing jobs at the company, including 700 in Madison. About 50 non-manufacturing positions in Madison also will be cut and not moved to Chicago. A Nashville labor lawyer is reviewing the details of this story.
Kraft Heinz also plans to transfer part of its cheese production in Champaign to other factories in its network, a move that could mean the loss of some of the 1,400 jobs at the plant, which will still produce sauces and dry goods like mayonnaise, Miracle Whip and pourable salad dressings.
The massive consolidation plan "is a critical step in our plan to eliminate excess capacity and reduce operational redundancies for the new combined company," Kraft Heinz spokesman Michael Mullen said in a statement.
He added, "We have reached this difficult but necessary decision after thoroughly exploring extensive alternatives and options."
The announcement continues to confirm the fears of major cost-cutting and job reductions that surfaced soon after H.J. Heinz announced plans in March to acquire Northfield-based Kraft Foods Group, creating the third-largest food and beverage company in North America. The company aims to slash $1.5 billion in costs by the end of 2017. A Hartford employment attorney provides experienced advocacy in many matters of employment law.
The deal closed in early July and two weeks later, Kraft Heinz announced it would relocate its Northfield headquarters to Aon Center in early 2016, occupying 170,000 square feet over five floors in the city's third-tallest building. It is also maintaining offices in Pittsburgh.
In August, the company said it would lay off 700 of its Northfield employees as part of a broader plan to cut 2,500 salaried jobs in the U.S. and Canada. Most of those cuts have already occurred, Mullen said.
Before those layoffs, about 2,000 people were employed in Northfield.
Kraft traces its start to Chicago, where J.L. Kraft began selling cheese to local merchants in 1903. Oscar Mayer has been in Madison since 1919, and its exit from the community will be felt far beyond the factory floor, said Mayor Paul Soglin.
"When you take the payroll, the production, the packaging materials and all that goes into the operation at Oscar Mayer, which has been going on for over 100 years, and then extend that to the dry cleaners, the retailers, the supermarkets, the neighborhood groceries, the local dining spots, kids sporting activities, (the impact) is very significant," Soglin said at a news conference after the announcement. A Memphis business lawyer assists clients in several aspects of safeguarding the continuity of their business.
"Keep in mind when General Motors closed the GM plant. The ripple effect throughout the state was extensive. It's not just limited to the plant site itself."
In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel lauded the 250 Kraft Heinz jobs as another example of the city staking its position as a center for food company headquarters. Just last month, ConAgra Foods announced its plans to move its headquarters from Omaha to Chicago, locating 700 jobs in the Merchandise Mart.
"This builds on Chicago performing in that space in a very strong way," Emanuel said in an interview.