Tannery to close May 15

‘We hope to accomplish this closing with the least possible disruption to our employees.’

by BETH ALTENA

Wolverine World Wide notified tannery workers on Friday, March 20 of the closing of the Rockford tannery on May 15, 2009.

In a letter titled WARN Notification to Union dated March 16, the letter stated that the purpose of the letter was pursuant to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1998 (“WARN”).

The contents of the letter are as follows:

Wolverine World Wide will be permanently closing its Tannery facility located at 181 North Main Street, Rockford, MI 49341. We hope to accomplish this closing with the least possible disruption to our employees.

According to the best information available, the expected date of the permanent closing of the facility will be May 15, 2009. A list of the affected bargaining unit position, the number of affected bargaining unit employees in those positions, and the names of bargaining unit employees in affected positions is attached.

This notice is given pursuant to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1998 ( (“WARN”) which requires employers to give official notice to affected unions of a pending facility closing to the representative of affected employees.

In the attachment, duties and names of over 60 tannery workers affected are listed. The list is as follows: Two chief boiler operators, one crib attendant, four disposal pit operators, four dry operators, one electrician, five finish operators, one head sorter, three hi-lo operators, one key operator, one lab technician, five millwrights, one each oiler, paint technician, plush mills, pre-cut operator, s/s mechanic, shipping clerk, split/shave labor, four split/shave operators, three SR finish operators, five SR split/shave operators, seven technicians, one each toggler and utility operator and six wet blue dryer operators.

An angry long-term employee with the company, who opted out of requirement several years ago, said he will have the last laugh on Wolverine. “I’ll be there when they close the doors,” he said.

City Manager Michael Young said he had received a copy of the letter. “The flow has already started to reduce,” he said. “It doesn’t diminish what’s happening [to know the closing date].”

“Wolverine is deciding who is going to be on their team to work with us. We’re waiting for them to get back to us to get a sense of what might happen to that property in the future.”

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