The Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. — The last cold cuts are rolling off the line at the Oscar Mayer facility in Madison, ending nearly 100 years of production at the Wisconsin plant.
The 72-acre plant was one of seven locations slated for closure when Oscar Mayer’s newly merged parent company, Kraft Heinz, announced restructuring in November 2015.
“It’s a sad day for Oscar Mayer. It’s family and friends,” employee Mike Carlin said.
The Madison facility has been the company’s headquarters since 1957. New products also were developed at the location.
The plant employed as many as 4,000 people at its peak in the 1970s. It had about 1,300 employees in 2013.
Debbie McDougal celebrated 29 years with the company recently.
“I was going to school when I (started) here,” she said. “You buy a car, get a paycheck — the next thing you know, you’re a lifer.”
About 30 employees will remain at the facility until the end of July, cleaning the plant and dismantling equipment, said Doug Leikness, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which is representing the plant workers.
A small number of Madison employees will transfer to the company’s location in Davenport, Iowa, where a new plant is being built.
Carlin has decided not to relocate.
“I have a house here, I have a life here,” he said. “It’s another day. I’ve just gotta go on and find something else.”
The Madison City Council has created the Oscar Mayer Strategic Assessment Committee to work with a consultant to create a plan for redeveloping the site.
Reich Brothers Holdings, a company with nationwide experience disposing of the assets of closed factories, is considering the property but no decision has been made yet, said Reich Brothers co-CEO Adam Reich.
A potential buyer is also considering the facility.
“For now, the process remains ongoing and nothing is final,” Kraft Heinz spokesman Michael Mullen said.