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Candy Producer Brach's Starts Phase Out of Chicago Plant

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are outdated, and the industry is rapidly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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