Joy Global Inc. will close its Orchard Street plant in Milwaukee and move its motor manufacturing work to Longview, Texas beginning in January.
All 51 union employees plus five non-union employees who worked at the facility will be laid off, according to a WARN notice filed with the state Monday. The positions include inspectors, welders, punch press operators, winders and assemblers, among others, said Chris Chappelle, president of United Steelworkers Local 1114.
Some of those employees may move to other Joy Global facilities, and some may retire, Chappelle said.
“If they have certain skills, they could bump into other places like welding or machining,” he said. “We have to work out all the details with the company.”
Joy Global has been in contact with union officials, and said the closure was a cost-cutting measure, Chappelle said.
“Because their footprint, it was…a redundant facility,” he said. “They can do this in other places, and the Longview plant is non-union, that’s why they’re moving there. And it’s cheaper.”
The Longview plant was acquired in 2011 as part of Joy Global’s $1.1 billion acquisition of heavy construction equipment manufacturer LeTourneau Technologies Inc.
The Orchard plant closure is expected to be completed in April.
There are now about 300 hourly Joy Global workers in Milwaukee, and that figure is likely to be about 200 by next April, Chappelle said.
Joy Global spokesperson Caley Clinton said the Orchard Street plant is where motor assembly and electrical wiring work is done.
“We do that type of work at eight other facilities in our network – Longview is one of them,” Clinton said. “There is not as much work across the board. We’re looking at the overall picture and trying to prioritize what each location does.”
The Orchard Street building is 220,000 square feet, with 130,000 square feet of manufacturing space. Joy Global acquired it in 1968 and has not yet determined what it will do with the empty facility, Clinton said.
Joy Global’s largest plants are at its national headquarters in Milwaukee, in Longview and in Franklin, Penn. Worldwide, the company has 14,000 employees, with about 1,001 in Milwaukee.
The company announced last week it would lay off 26 salaried employees in Milwaukee.