Graphic Packaging to Close Menasha Plant

According to a report earlier this week by The Post-Crescent, Appleton, Wis., USA, Graphic Packaging International (Atlanta, Ga.) will close its paper converting plant in Menasha, Wis., by the end of the year, laying off 228 employees.

Workers were told Monday (May 16) that layoffs will be done in phases starting in a little more than 60 days.

"We made the decision to close the facility based on the capabilities of the plant and its supply chain infrastructure. It didn’t fit into our portfolio anymore," said Sue Appleyard, senior manager of corporate communications in the company’s Atlanta office. "We have acquired other facilities recently that have state-of-the-art capabilities."

She said those newer plants are in Minnesota, Iowa and on the East Coast. The 228 affected employees in Menasha include hourly, salaried, union and nonunion workers. Employees are encouraged to apply for jobs in the company’s only other Wisconsin plant in Wausau. The company has seven paper mills and about 50 converting plants total. "They can also apply anywhere in the Graphic Packaging system," Appleyard said.

The Menasha facility manufactured folding cartons for consumer goods, mostly in the food industry. She said the plant was built in 1946.

Mark Westphal, a Graphic Packaging employee as well as president of the Fox Valley Area Labor Council, was disappointed that the company had not upgraded the plant in recent years or offered it for sale.

"It's still capable of making money," he said.

He added that unionized workers at the plant are represented by two unions, USW Local 2-148 and IBT/GCC Graphic Communication Council Local 77P.