NEENAH, Wis. (WFRV) – Local 5 first told you about the decision to shut down the Clearwater Plant on June 1, and today the shock is setting in for families, along with the City of Neenah and Town of Fox Crossing. They say the announcement was unexpected and without warning.
Nearly 300 employees are now looking for work during a pandemic, which has been challenging over the last year. In a statement to Local 5, Clearwater Representative Shannon Meyers said, “We are working with employees and the Union on a variety of options for their future.” Those options include possible transfers to other plant locations, severance packages for others, and connections to employment outside of Clearwater, according to Meyers.
The Union representing employees, United Steel Workers of America’s contract expired on the same day the announcement of the closure was released. In response to Local 5’s Eric Richards request for comment, late Wednesday Jess Kamm said, ” If we make any statements in the coming days, I will direct them to you.”
George Dearborn Jr. is the Director of Community Development for the Town of Fox Crossing, who says if Clearwater had reached out before making the decision and announcement, help could have been provided. ” Obviously it’s a disappointment and we wish they would have called us. We would have been happy to talk about what things we could provide,” said Dearborn Jr.
Neenah Mayor Dean Kaufert says the city was unaware the closure was in the works. “The announcement hit’s you in the gut. It’s something you don’t prepare for,” said Kaufert. At this time it is too early to tell what the economic impact will be for Neenah and Fox Crossing. It is also unclear what the impact will be for the state of Wisconsin as well.
Clearwater says their Neenah location is closing in part due to no longer making paper products for home consumers. The Plant will officially close at the end of July.