KC loses hundreds more manufacturing jobs as Procter & Gamble announces plant closure

Posted at 8:31 AM, Feb 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-07 13:49:41-05

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- All 280 full-time employees at the Procter & Gamble plant in KCK will either have to transfer elsewhere or be out of a job come mid-2020, a spokesperson for the company announced Wednesday morning after an impromptu all-staff meeting. 

On top of the 280 employees at the facility on a full-time basis, there are an additional 350 contract employees at this site, according to the spokesperson. 

"We shared with employees today that we will transfer production of Our Dish Care business from our site in Kansas City, Kansas, to our new facility at Tabler Station, West Virginia," the spokesperson said in a statement.

Procter and Gamble said moving operations to West Virginia will improve the efficiency of its distribution and production operations.

The KCK plant, built in 1905, produces Dawn, Gain, Ivory and Joy soaps and dish detergents.

According to the statement, Procter and Gamble announced Wednesday it is closing the KCK plant as well as its plant in Iowa City, Iowa. The company will add 200 employees to its West Virginia plant, meaning not all of the lost jobs will transfer.

The exact number of employees in Iowa City affected by this decision was not immediately clear. 

"We will negotiate with the local labor union regarding support to help employees transition to opportunities, whether that be transfers to other P&G sites or beyond P&G," the statement said. 

The company cited efficiency and cost-cutting as factors in the move to West Virginia, describing it as a centralization of sorts. Procter & Gamble employs nearly 100,000 employees at 110 plants worldwide.

Some employees said they were upset to get the news, although many admitted they saw the announcement coming. 

“It's no longer just a rumor and we can move forward and start making some plans,” explained 18-year employee John Luschen. 

He said the plant manager gathered everyone from the facility for a meeting Wednesday morning where he made the announcement. According to Luschen, the manager said he had been dreading this day. 

“The plant manager said that he'd been working on a speech and trying to memorize it all night, and in the end, he threw all that away and just spoke. It wasn't a canned speech. It was genuine answers,” Luschen described. 

Another employee who didn’t want to identify herself said transferring to a different P&G facility is not a good option for her. 

“Because I need the insurance. I'm on dialysis. So I'm not sure what I'm going to do.”

The plant is located on Kansas Avenue, near 18th Street Expressway.

Another loss 

Last week, Harley-Davidson announced it would be closing its Kansas City plant, eliminating 800 jobs and moving operations to a site in Pennsylvania. 

Researchers with the Mid-America Regional Council found that the Kansas City metro has added 5,000 manufacturing jobs over the last five years, averaging about 1,000 jobs per year.

In just a week, the Harley-Davidson and Proctor & Gamble closures together negate a year's worth of that growth.

The metro's 78,000 total manufacturing jobs has, however, received a boost from Missouri's overall growth in the sector. The state added more than 7,000 manufacturing jobs in 2017, according to the Department of Economic Development.