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“A sad day:” Oscar Mayer plant in Madison prepares to close

The Madison factory was the original Oscar Mayer company’s largest facility.
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MADISON — 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 factory was set to close Thursday, June 29th, the Wisconsin State Journal (http://bit.ly/2sUQqEd) reported. 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.

A small number of Madison employees will transfer to a new Kraft facility, under construction now in Davenport. That plant is expected to employ about 475 full-time workers, down from the current 1,400 at the company’s riverfront plant.

The Madison 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 on Tuesday.

“I was going to school when I (started) here. You buy a car, get a paycheck — the next thing you know, you’re a lifer,” she said.

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.

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.