Plant closing shocks workers, mayor hopes to keep Yale Locks

10:50 PM, Mar 30, 2012   |    comments
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The mayor of Lenoir City says he'll meet with council on Monday to come up with a tax incentive package to offer Yale Locks.

The lock manufacturer's parent company, Assa Alboy of Sweden, announced Friday it will close the Lenoir City plant.

They say the move will cost Lenoir City more than 200 jobs.

According to union President Joe Williams, the plan is to phase out operations starting in 60 days.

The company says they expect to shut down in Lenoir City in a year's time.

But Mayor Tony Aikens hopes they can persuade the company to remain.

"We're having a special called council meeting on Monday to offer a tax incentive, we're optimistic that will help," says Aikens.

He says he hopes state and county officials will come up with offers as well.

Nine years away from retirement, Williams says the news of the layoffs came as a shock.

"It's been my life for 35 years," said an emotional Williams. "I've raised my family by working here. It's really been a tough situation."

He says they ship about $350,000 worth of locks on a daily basis and have run a profitable operation.

Yale Locks employee Stacy Arthur says when she stared work 17 years ago, the company had three shifts of workers.

In recent years she says, they've cut back on employees hours.

That forced her to pick up a second job as a clerk at the Red Top gas station on Highway 11.

But she says even more recently things began to pick back up. She says she even worked overtime this week.

"We were so busy, so that's why it shocked us so much," says Arthur.

Her husband is a Yale Locks employee too.

Now she says she's worried about how she'll support her three children.

With orders left to fill, she says they've been told to report to work Monday.

"I don't know how it's going to feel to walk back in there."

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