Longtime Milwaukee manufacturer Master Lock announced Thursday May 25 that the company is closing its Milwaukee factory, with workers remaining employed until October.
But just because the workers are losing their jobs doesn’t mean the work is over for their union, Local UAW 469, which represents the 360 workers at the Master Lock plant. Union president Mike Bink tells WTMJ there’s still a lot to do.
“We have to work with our members, various employment agencies, do whatever we can to make sure they land on their feet,” Bink said.
Since the workers will still be employed for the summer, the union will still be meeting and negotiating with Master Lock on the exit packages and benefits for the workers. Bink said he’s appreciative of how the company is handling it so far.
“The company’s committed to treating people well on the way out. They are going to provide out packages for everyone – some of that is contractual, it may go beyond that in some cases,” he said.
As Local 469 works to find new opportunities for its workers, Bink said the amount of lead time is much better than it could have been.
“The company did give us a lot of warning rather than just doing a 60-day plant closing notice which is the minimum,” he said.
Still, Bink said he’s upset that the company has decided to close in Milwaukee. One of the things he highlighted as a loss was a training program for skilled production jobs for workers at the factory.
“We develop from within, and those jobs pay very, very well, and those are opportunities that won’t be in this area anymore,” he said. “That’s what’s upsetting.”
Bink said the union hasn’t met with the company yet but he expects that to happen within the next week. The company released a statement that said in part, “This decision is not a reflection of the skills, performance or commitment of the Milwaukee workforce, and it was not made lightly.”
The plant will close fully by March 2024.