·  USW

USW Disappointed by Unilever's Decision to Abandon Chicago Production

Contact:  Steven Kramer (708) 599-5009

MELROSE PARK, Ill – The United Steelworkers (USW) today expressed disappointment that Unilever is closing its Alberto Culver beauty products facility in the Chicago area despite the union’s efforts to keep it open.

The closing, expected to begin in a few months and be completed in 2013, will affect some 250 members of USW Local 977 and several hundred other employees at the Alberto Culver factory and adjacent corporate headquarters. Total job loss is expected to be 800.

“We offered to do anything that we could to keep the factory open, but they told us they were going to close it even if we worked for free,’’ said Steven Kramer, vice president of Local 9777. “It’s unfortunate they are going to move good-paying jobs out of Chicago. It was a corporate decision that we tried but could not alter.”

Unilever, a British-Dutch multinational corporation that owns a wide variety of consumer product brands, acquired Alberto Culver last year for $3.7 billion.

In October, the state of Arkansas announced that Unilever was investing $40 million into expanding a plant in Jonesboro, Ark., that also makes personal care products.

The Melrose Park plant manufacturers Alberto Culver products including Alberto VO5, TRESsemme shampoos, Nexxus shampoos and conditioners as well as St. Ives lotions and body wash.

Kramer said he expects Unilever will move Melrose Park production to the Jonesboro facility and another in Missouri. Jonesboro is a former Alberto Culver factory that makes some of the same products.

The union has negotiated a severance package of 1.5 weeks of pay for each years of service up to 28 weeks plus six months of health insurance and job search assistance. Retirees will be paid a $5,000 bonus.

The USW represents 850,000 members in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. Its members are employed in metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, forestry and the service sector.

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