Skip to comments.Mirro Plant Closes Friday
Posted on 09/11/2003 10:04:42 AM PDT by Willie Green
For education and discussion only. Not for commercial use.
Manitowoc -- The days are winding down for the Mirro Company. The cookware manufacturer announced in January it was shutting down operations after more than 100 years in Manitowoc. The final day of production is Friday, leaving hundreds of people without a job.
Slowly but surely, the Mirro plant is becoming deserted. Semi trailers sit idle. Parking lots are nearly empty. Each day, more and more workers say goodbye for good.
"It's like losing a member of the family," said Jason Suchomel, who is losing his job. "It's very family-oriented around here, and it's like saying goodbye to an old friend or family member."
At one time, the plant employed 3,500 people. In January, at the time of the announcement, it employed more than 800.
Mirro's plant manager says what's happening at Mirro mirrors what's happening around the country. "I never thought I'd see as many plants in the U.S. going out of business," Michael Klug said.
Mirro is opening a new plant this fall in Mexico.
With Mirro about to close its gates for good in Manitowoc, hundreds of employees are left in a position they have not faced in decades-- unemployed and searching for a job.
"A lot of us haven't ever filled out job applications because in the 60s and 70s you showed up, said, 'I need a job' and somebody hired you," said Cindee Vogel, who worked 28 years at Mirro. "You don't just go ring a doorbell and say 'I want a job' these days. It's a lot, a lot of hard work."
The company set up a career center, and more than 500 people have stopped by for help to write resumes and get advice.
Vogel says it is an emotional time with a lot of tears as people who worked together for decades leave for the last time.
Mirro worker says goodbye after 41 years
By Charlie Mathews
Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter
Sept. 11, 2003
TOWN OF TWO RIVERS When Gloria Helmer gets home today, it will mark the end of more than four decades working at Mirro Co.
Bo, Maddie, Shilo and Jessie won´t know.
LAB LUVR is the personalized license plate on Helmer´s pickup truck, and her four golden Labrador retrievers now will be an even bigger part of her life.
The best part of 41 years at Mirro? I guess getting a regular paycheck and being able to afford a few extra things. The dogs take up a lot of that paycheck, Helmer said, sitting on the backyard patio of the home she shares with her husband, David.
He has worked 37 years for Manitowoc Crane, another company that has seen hundreds of layoffs in recent years. A worldwide construction slowdown has resulted in depressed sales.
But the division of the Manitowoc Co. is not closing its doors forever, like the 106-year-old Mirro Co. will do on Friday. The last of the remaining 130 workers will exit the Mirro Drive plant at 11:42 p.m.
Helmer has a vacation day on Friday, the first day of the Fox Valley Cluster Dog Show, which runs through Tuesday at Manitowoc County Expo.
I´ve put 18 obedience titles on my dogs, and will be spending a lot more time with our labs, as well as our two grandsons, Helmer said of her post-Mirro life. She has more seniority than all remaining workers, save one.
Making $13.59 an hour, the United Steelworkers union member is finishing her career in section 5E on the pack line in production, getting dutch ovens, two and three-quart sauce pans, fry pans and fry pan covers ready for shipment.
I started at $1.22 an hour back in 1962. We got piece rate bonus so we could make two bucks an hour if we met production goals, she said.
Helmer, 59, had hoped to retire in a few years, but at a time of her own choosing.
It´s sad when you see people leaving every day you have been working with. I thought I would be retiring and those younger than me would still be there, she said. I saw many of them on the day they were hired 20, 30 years ago.
She will receive 21 weeks of severance pay one week for each year of service to a maximum of 14 and seven more for meeting various 2003 production goals.
While several hundred Mirro workers have signed training contracts and are taking courses at Lakeshore Technical College, that is not the path she will follow.
I´m not going back to school, not at my age, Helmer said.
She said she will never buy Mirro products made in Mexico, where parent company Newell-Rubbermaid is locating cookware and bakeware production facilities.
Never, even if I didn´t already have enough for my next lifetime. When they brought the management team over from Calphalon and told us we had two years to turn it around, my opinion is they were already planning on going to Mexico, Helmer said.
That´s when they started getting rid of our good supervisors who knew the ins and outs of running a factory, she added.
Helmer would rather talk about her dogs, her passion since 1989.
It is surprising how many owners have these dogs for a year or two and decide they don´t want them. They do have lots of energy, love to play ball and Frisbee, need a lot of exercise, she said.
The Helmers live on two acres and in just a few minutes the dogs can race around the property several times over. The Helmers also have a cottage at Heidemann Lake in Kewaunee, where the labs can engage in the activity they were bred for: waterfowl retrieval.
On the lot to the east of their house the Helmers have their own training facility, with dozens of obedience ribbons hanging on the wall beneath the name of each Labrador.
When Helmer gets into her Chevy Blazer at 3:12 p.m. today, she may not have a smile on her face as she leaves the Mirro parking lot for the last time.
But by the time she drives the eight miles home, Helmer will be ready to greet her dogs, take them out of their kennels and let them run off a little pent-up steam.
As far as Bo, Maddie, Shilo and Jessie are concerned, their owner will be home and it´ll be time to play
But, in general, the protective system of our day is conservative, while the free trade system is destructive. It breaks up old nationalities and pushes the antagonism of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to the extreme point. In a word, the free trade system hastens the social revolution. It is in this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, that I vote in favor of free trade.
~Karl Marx, "On the Question of Free Trade" - January 9, 1848
United Steelworkers union
Anyone see the connection? Can we all say, "F e a t h e r b e d d i n g?"
Only if you want to base your misinformed opinion on a severely outdated stereotype.
Excerpted and condensed from:
Of Restraints upon the Importation from Foreign Countries
of such Goods as can be produced at Home
"There seem, however, to be two cases in which it will generally be advantageous to lay some burden upon foreign for the encouragement of domestic industry...
As there are two cases in which it will generally be advantageous to lay some burden upon foreign for the encouragement of domestic industry, so there are two others in which it may sometimes be a matter of deliberation; in the one, how far it is proper to continue the free importation of certain foreign goods; and in the other, how far, or in what manner, it may be proper to restore that free importation after it has been for some time interrupted....
- The first is, when some particular sort of industry is necessary for the defence of the country....
- The second case, in which it will generally be advantageous to lay some burden upon foreign for the encouragement of domestic industry is, when some tax is imposed at home upon the produce of the latter. In this case, it seems reasonable that an equal tax should be imposed upon the like produce of the former....
- The case in which it may sometimes be a matter of deliberation how far it is proper to continue the free importation of certain foreign goods is, when some foreign nation restrains by high duties or prohibitions the importation of some of our manufactures into their country. Revenge in this case naturally dictates retaliation, and that we should impose the like duties and prohibitions upon the importation of some or all of their manufactures into ours....
- The case in which it may sometimes be a matter of deliberation, how far, or in what manner, it is proper to restore the free importation of foreign goods, after it has been for some time interrupted, is, when particular manufactures, by means of high duties or prohibitions upon all foreign goods which can come into competition with them, have been so far extended as to employ a great multitude of hands. Humanity may in this case require that the freedom of trade should be restored only by slow gradations, and with a good deal of reserve and circumspection. Were those high duties and prohibitions taken away all at once, cheaper foreign goods of the same kind might be poured so fast into the home market as to deprive all at once many thousands of our people of their ordinary employment and means of subsistence. The disorder which this would occasion might no doubt be very considerable....
Yes, and the left-wing globo-marxists have long ago shifted their tactics, abandoning negotiation on behalf of our blue collar workforce for the oppressive mandates of our white collar bureaucratic institutions.
Nationwide, organized labor representation of the manufacturing workforce has drasticly declined to about 15%.
In comparison, over 40% of government workers are unionized.
(Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by occupation and industry)
By infiltrating our government and educational institutions, the marxists now utilize health-care and environmental legislation and litigation to demonize and dismantle our industrial infrastructure, manufacturing expertise and blue collar workforce.
By clinging to an antiquated perspective towards our manufacturing workforce, you enable and facilitate their goal of subverting our prosperity and national security.
This company closing has been a long time in the making. Years before NAFTA came on the scene, which only hastened the closing.
Mirro failed to reinvest into it's production/facilities. The buildings are literal dumps. They are blights on the city of Manitowoc. My mom worked there. My sister and sister-in-law were ones recently shown the door. My Mother-in-law retired from Mirro 10 years ago after 30 years of service. Heck, I even cleaned offices there for awhile when back in college. It was a filthy, stinky place.
As the story tells, when Newell came in, they did nothing to improve the company and started firing plant supervisors. I say "good riddance" to Mirro. Now they can take all that blighted property and put some real business there. Manitowoc is a tourist town. The $13.49/hr jobs lost can be replaced.
And no, the processes utilized in these facilities were no where near sophisticated/automated. They were the same machines my mom worked on when she was pregnant with my younger sister 40 years ago. None of my relatives/inlaws that worked there even had a high school diploma. So in some way, it's a blessing that they are going back to school now, to get their diplomas and training in other areas.
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