Smurfit-Stone plants closing, workers uncertain about jobs

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) -  Uncertainty for more than two hundred people who recently found out they may soon be out of a job in Henrico.

Two Smurfit-Stone plants in the county are closing. The plant on Lewis Road and the other on Sprouse Drive.

One worker said it's tense right now inside the plant, that everyone is looking for a job. He says Smurfit-Stone is consolidating and the new location will be on South Laburnum.

Aaron Vaughan's days with Smurfit-Stone are numbered. For three years, the maintenance technician has clocked in at the company's Sprouse Drive plant. On September 2nd, Vaughan said he and his co-workers got a 60 day warning notice about the plant closing.

"It's coming up on the holidays every body's a little bit worried what are you going to do hang around and wait and get your severance pay and hope that will hold you through until you find a job so that's all you can do," said Vaughan.

Smurfit, which is the largest producer of cardboard boxes in the United States, emerged from bankruptcy this summer.

It has two locations in Henrico county near the airport with 229 workers total.

Smurfit is also Hopewell's largest employer.

According to employees, the two Henrico plants are consolidating into one at South Laburnum.  But the workers still don't know who's moving forward with the company.

"Sometimes you just got to take what you can get and not what you want and people need to understand that," said Vaughan.

Vaughan say the company has offered a severance package that includes a weeks pay for every year employed plus accrued vacation.

While Vaughan only has to worry about himself, he says that's not the case for everyone.

"It makes it a little easier on me but a lot of people here have families and they have a lot to think about in the next few weeks," said Vaughan.

Employees said production stops at both plants on October 31st.

The company's vice president stopped by. But declined to comment only to say he's excited about what's happening at the new location.

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