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Procter & Gamble closing its Kansas City, Kan., plant, affecting 380 workers

Procter & Gamble announced to employees Wednesday morning that it is closing its Kansas City, Kan., plant. The plant employs about 280 full-time employees.

County officials say 100 contract laborers work at the plant and will be affected.

A statement from the company says production will be transferred to its new facility in West Virginia.

“This is planned to be complete by mid-2020 and will result in the closure of the Kansas City plant in late 2020,” the statement said.

P&G said it will transfer production of its Our Dish Care business from Kansas City, Kan., to its Tabler Station, W.Va., plant, which will also absorb jobs from the company’s Iowa City, Iowa, plant. The combined moves will increase the workforce at the West Virginia plant from 700 to 900, the company said.

“Decisions like this are never easy,” the Proctor & Gamble statement said, “but we are communicating this decision more than two years in advance to help our employees plan for the future. We are committed to supporting P&G people through the transition in a manner consistent with our values and principles.”

Procter & Gamble said it 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 closure decision willl end a relationship with Kansas City, Kan., that goes back to 1905. The plant’s location in the Armourdale district was selected for its proximity to the stockyards, which produced animal fat for use in making soap.

Bob North, interim director of the Kansas Department of Commerce, told lawmakers on Wednesday morning he had not heard about the Proctor & Gamble announcement.

Rep. Tom Burroughs, a Kansas City Democrat, asked North about the closure during a previously scheduled appearance before a legislative committee.

“It's a major company, a major employer in the metropolitan area,” Burroughs said. “Those salaries, benefits and jobs will be very difficult to replace.”

The Kansas City, Kan., plant closing could affect other area jobs as well.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican, said in a statement that he was “extremely disappointed by Procter & Gamble’s surprise decision.”

“I spoke with leaders and employees at P&G last fall and this closure was not shared during our discussion,” Moran said. “These decisions not only impact the employees, but the entire community.”

Some people expressed sadness at the news on social media.

The P&G closing announcement comes less than two weeks after Harley-Davidson Inc. announced it would close its Kansas City motorcycle assembly plant in the fall of 2019. That move will affect about 800 workers.

The P&G announcement comes a week after federal officials sued a Chicago-based staffing company seeking back pay and punitive damages for women employees who were harassed at the Kansas City, Kan., soap factory.

SMX LLC, which does business as Staff Management|SMX, allegedly violated the employees’ civil rights by allowing a manager to repeatedly harass the workers, according to the lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The company no longer provides contract labor at the P&G factory.

P&G reportedly was meeting with union leaders in Kansas City, Kan., on Wednesday prior to meeting with employees at the plant at 1900 Kansas Ave.

The Kansas City, Kan., plant was the company’s first expansion by P&G outside its home city of Cincinnati. The plant’s products include Dawn, Gain, Ivory and Joy hand and dishwashing detergents. P&G currently has 10 plants in the United States, out of 110 worldwide. The company employs about 95,000 people, about 25,000 in the U.S.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Robert A. Cronkleton: 816-234-4261, @cronkb

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