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    Candy Producer Brach's Starts Phase Out of Chicago Plant

    Candy producer Brach's Confections Inc.is starting the phased shutdown of its Chicagomanufacturing plant, sending pink slips to 29workers who must leave the company by Oct. 20.

    Aug. 23--Candy producer Brach's Confections Inc.
    is starting the phased shutdown of its Chicago
    manufacturing plant, sending pink slips to 29
    workers who must leave the company by Oct. 20.

    Brach's said Wednesday it would lay off 116
    additional employees by the end of this year. The
    remaining 950 workers will be dismissed
    progressively until the end of 2003. "We have not
    finalized the schedule yet," said Kevin Kotecki,
    president of Brach's, which was founded in Chicago
    in 1904.

    The company's first steps toward closing the plant
    mean that efforts by city representatives, local
    business leaders and union representatives to
    dissuade privately held Brach's from moving the
    production away from Chicago have failed.

    "I don't think anyone will be surprised, as the
    reasons for our decision are beyond the control of
    the local community," Kotecki said in an interview.
    "Domestic sugar prices are too high, the facilities
    are outdated, and the industry is rapidly
    consolidating. As a result of all this, there is no
    opportunity for us to be successful here."

    Under terms of a severance program negotiated with
    Brach's by the Teamsters Union, which represents
    many workers at the plant, employees will receive
    the equivalent of one week's salary for every year
    they were employed by the company. Medical
    support will be provided for six months after the date
    of dismissal. The company also said it would
    provide outplacement services.

    "The program is better than in similar cases," said
    Julio Lara, principal officer with the Teamsters Local
    Union 738. "But there are many older workers who
    will have difficulties to find new jobs." According to
    the Teamsters, the average worker has spent 27
    years at Brach's plants.

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