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WisBusiness Tuesday Trends
November 21, 2006
By Brian E. Clark
In a nod to the Badger State’s prowess in growing cranberries, Ocean Spray has announced plans to build a 100,000-square-foot, $50 million plant in Wisconsin Rapids. The facility, which will produce sweetened and dried "craisins," could bring 50 new jobs by the summer of 2008.
Francis Podvin, Ocean Spray board chairman, said the decision to build in Wisconsin Rapids was easy. “You locate the plant where the product is,” he said. Company officials said if a second plant is added, the city could see another few jobs.
A lot of workers weren’t happy about it, but members of the Steelworkers’ Union at Harley-Davidson have accepted a contract revision that should bring a new, $120 million plant and more than 100 new jobs. The vote was 943 to 536. In an earlier vote, the members rejected the deal by a 3-1 margin and many employees said the cuts were unnecessary because Harley is projected to make a profit of $1 billion this year.
The company improved the contract slightly after the first vote, but workers will still have to pay more for benefits. Though the contract does not lower current employees’ pay, workers were not happy that new hires will earn about $20 an hour, some $7 an hour less than current workers receive. Harley shares closed Monday at $73.34, down from the 52-week high of $7.45.
The Tecumseh Power Co. plant that makes small engines in New Holstein will close by March 31 and result in the layoffs of nearly 340 employees. The factory makes engines for lawn mowers, snow blowers and generators.
The move follows an announcement in October that Tecumseh would lay off 282 of the engine plant’s 550 employees, and that more layoffs were possible. The plant, which had been Calumet County’s largest employer before layoffs in recent years, employed 1,500 people as recently as six years ago. It has operated in New Holstein since 1956. Tecumseh shares closed Monday at $15.60, down from a 52-week high of $22.53.
Written exclusively for subscribers. Tuesday Trends is Copyright © 2006.