Thermo Fisher Scientific will close its Two Rivers wooden laboratory equipment production facility, moving the work to Texas and leaving 190 people out of work. “Our concern is for the displaced employees,” says City Manager Greg Buckley. “We want to make sure as many resources as are available are at their disposal.” It’s the second wave of job losses at Thermo Fisher, which has had a presence in the Manitowoc County city for more than 130 years. Thermo Fisher announced in September the closure of its steel manufacturing plant, eliminating 120 jobs which are going to Mexico.
Greg Coenen represents carpenters union workers. He says Buckley and the city’s economic development staff “bent over backwards” to accommodate Thermo Fisher. “We had plans drawn for other plants right next to the steel plant, tax credits from the state, funding from the city and county. They turned their back in it. They told us they didn’t need that funding, and they’ve gone on their merry way.”
The wood production jobs are being moved to Round Rock, Texas, with layoffs to begin in March. Operations are scheduled to be shut down by September. “It’s devastating,” says Coenen. “Good paying manufacturing jobs, how do you replace them? It’s hard to do.” Coming as it does on the heels of September’s announcement, Coenen says the latest news from Thermo Fisher does not some as a big surprise. “When we negotiated the last collective agreement, they basically told us that they were looking to move completely out of Two Rivers, it was just a matter of when. For some people it was kind of a relief to finally know what their plan is, so they can start planning their future.”
Thermo Fisher, which is based in Walthan, Massachusetts, will keep some 150 nonmanufacturing employees in Two Rivers. The company employs more than 30,000 people worldwide and some 1,200 in Wisconsin, including in Madison. “It will be tough to bounce back, but this area and its people have shown themselves to be very resilient” says city manager Buckley. “These are good, hard-working people. They would be a great asset for these other companies that are growing, investing and doing positive things in the area.”
Brian Norton, WOMT