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134 workers at Robertshaw learn the Chattanooga plant is closing

The company says it will be "working closely with all impacted employees throughout the transition process." It says severance packages, relocation opportunities and outplacement services will be offered as appropriate. (Image: WTVC)

UPDATE:

A document filed by the company posted on the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development's website says that the company plans to close permanently on March 30th, 2018. The notice says a total of 136 workers are affected.

PREVIOUSLY:

134 employees of the Robertshaw plant on Cummings Highway in Chattanooga learned Thursday the company was will that location in early 2018.

In a statement released to NewsChannel 9, a spokesperson for Robertshaw says it was a difficult decision, but it had to be done to insure growth and competitiveness in the future. The company went on to say:

"Over the past year as Robershaw fully integrated BSI, a company it acquired in June, 2016, the company has made significant investments across its global operations to drive future growth. These efforts include a $1.5 million dollar upgrade to its Itasca, Illinois headquarters and engineering center to accommodate, relocate and consolidate BSI's management, engineers, and back office. Robertshaw also expanded its distribution capacity in Laredo, Texas to better service customers who purchase both Robertshaw and BSI-branded products. Chattanooga's kit assemblies will move to Robertshaw's Brownsville, Texas facility and the light manufacturing will move to its Mexican facilities."

The company says it will be "working closely with all impacted employees throughout the transition process." It says severance packages, relocation opportunities and outplacement services will be offered as appropriate.

Chris Ables is one of the Chattanooga employees affected by the closure.

"I was set to plan to retire here," said Chris Ables. "Finish my career here. Retire here and just live a life after that. But it seems like things have changed."

With changes coming - Ables says he's doesn't know what he'll do for work after 15 years at the plant. He says he suspected the closure was coming.

"We had a feeling they were because they pulled our lab out of here earlier this year and pulled some of the engineers out," said Ables.

What came as more of a shock was Robertshaw announcing it will move some of the operations to a Texas plant and others to facilities in Mexico.

"It kind of upsets us with the jobs moving to Mexico because we were told it was going to be America first and now all of the sudden we're hearing now that part of our plant is going to Mexico," said Ables. "They informed us they've got three different plants in Mexico."

Throughout his campaign and presidency, President Donald Trump talked about keeping industry in America.

"Companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without consequences," said President Donald Trump, speaking at Carrier in December. "Not going to happen. It's not going to happen. I'll tell you right now."

In December, Carrier considered moving jobs to Mexico but instead kept hundreds in Indiana. President Trump has also spoken out about keeping the auto industry in Detroit.

"Basically we have to bring our jobs back," said President Trump when he was on the campaign trail in Detroit. "We have to negotiate trade deals that are good deals, not bad deals."

A Robertshaw spokerson person told us: “The decision to wind down and discontinue to the operations of our Chattanooga plant was a difficult one, but this action had to be taken to streamline and align all our activities, resources and facilities to insure future competitiveness and growth.”

Now employees like Ables worry about their futures.

"That just kind of worries us they would let families that have been here and wanted to retire here, they just let it fade away," said Ables.

Robertshaw provides components, systems and services used in appliances, heating units, and air conditioners for both residential and commercial markets.


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