Georgia Pacific closing Chattanooga plant, 60 workers laid off
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Dozens of workers in Chattanooga learned this week they were out of a job just weeks before Christmas.
Georgia Pacific's Millennium Packaging Solutions plant in Chattanooga is closing on East 14th Street and Holtzclaw as workers worry about good-paying manufacturing jobs becoming ever more scarce.
Georgia Pacific notified all of its employees at Millennium Packaging Solutions Thursday that they'd no longer have a job here. Friday, its around 60 employees are coming in for individual meetings to find out exactly when their paychecks will stop coming.
"We're a little bit surprised. I mean we have a lot of good, hardworking people here," laid off worker Norris Watkins said.
"Show up for work and find out we're closed here as well," laid off worker Ken Edwards said.
These machine operators say manufacturing jobs are becoming harder and harder to get and keep.
"Unfortunately the economy is the way it is and companies have to do what they have to do," Watkins said.
"It's next to impossible these days," Edwards said.
Ken Edwards says Millennium Packaging Solutions was a god-send this time last year after losing his job of nearly two decades at a north Georgia Shaw plant that closed. "Here we go again because it took probably a year to find a good job again."
He had to work odd jobs to provide for his 12-year-old son. With Christmas approaching, it's a position he dreads being back in.
They're going in one-by-one to learn when their last day is. Some have already worked it. Others will stay to wind down operations. Doors close for good by February.
"The facility just didn't lend itself to be updated to handle the kind of equipment we need to meet customers' needs today," Georgia Pacific Spokesperson Julie Davis said.
In an attempt to lessen the blow, they're giving most employees 60 days pay and benefits, which Watkins needs.
"I have a wife who's disabled so I'm going to take a hit a little bit financially with my medical bills, but you know I'm a real positive person," Watkins said.
Always looking on the bright side, he says this is the best he's been treated by a company laying him off.
"Regardless of where it is, they're going to help me get back to work and that's all that really matters," Watkins said.
Georgia Pacific's nearest plant from here is in Cleveland, TN. They say these laid off employees will be considered for positions there, but only as openings pop up.