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ECONOMIC BLOW: 445 workers out of a job as MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc. closes in Auburn

AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) -  A massive layoff in East Alabama delivered a devastating blow to 445 workers at MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc.  After nearly 19 years of making pre-fabricated cabinets inside the Auburn facility, the plant is closing immediately.

The massive layoff was sudden and shocking for hundreds of employees who came to work Tuesday morning. They began their tasks and then were called into a meeting that would forever change their lives.

"It was a normal workday. We came to work, clocked in did our stretches. We got to our stations and went to work," said Subretia Hunt.

Hunt says after production began, a meeting was called and hundreds of employees learned the plant was shutting down and they needed to go home.  Taxies were on standby to take workers home.  Auburn police were also at the plant. As many workers drove off, they were crying.


     
"There was a lady who broke down in tears; she just bought a home. How are they gonna do that?  I just bought my car; my supervisor has kids in sports.  It's just gonna impact so many families," said Hunt.

In a statement, MasterBrand Cabinet, Inc. said as market conditions and consumer tastes change, they're closing the Auburn plant to improve operational efficiencies. The City of Auburn is working on a job fair to help displaced workers.

The City of Auburn was informed on Tuesday, June 12, that MasterBrand Cabinets has elected to permanently close its operations in the Auburn Industrial Park effective at noon.

"We are extremely disappointed to hear that this longtime Auburn industry has decided to close its doors, but we are most concerned about finding a place for the more than 400 people who lost their jobs today," Auburn Mayor Bill Ham said. "We are committed to helping these individuals find meaningful employment, and I am confident that our Workforce Development Division will do everything in its power to help them find new jobs."

The City of Auburn's Workforce Development Division has been in touch with other area industries and believe there are job opportunities available for those displaced. The division plans to hold a job fair soon to connect those looking for new positions with local employers. Details of this potential job fair will be posted at auburnalabama.org as they become available.

The company released the following statement after Tuesday's announcement:

"MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc. has continued to see market conditions and consumer tastes change over the last few years. In order to improve operational efficiencies while addressing these market changes, we will close the Auburn, AL manufacturing plant effective June 12, 2018. Products manufactured in the Auburn facility will be produced at other MasterBrand U.S. manufacturing locations.

MasterBrand Cabinets is committed to assisting the 445 associates through the transition. The company will provide additional compensation, coordination with all state and local agencies to help find new employment, and resources from our Employee Assistance Program. Additionally, we encourage all of our associates to apply for opportunities at our other manufacturing facilities; those offered positions may qualify for relocation assistance as well."

Hunt and her mother, who also got laid off, are beginning their job search immediately.  

"Don't stop you got to start today because there are 400 people trying to get placed. You got to get up and move," Hunt said.

Hunt isn't worried about finding another job. However, she is concerned about her former co-workers; especially those who spent their entire careers inside the MasterBrand walls.

"It's just shocking for those people and those families. I hope God blesses them and shows them what's next," said Hunt.

MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc. has operated in Auburn since 1999.


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