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Shockwaves felt after Master Lock announces it is leaving Milwaukee

By Julia Fello,


MILWAUKEE — Shockwaves are still being felt in Milwaukee, one day after a company was founded right here 102 years ago.

Master Lock plans to fully close its Milwaukee plant by next March , leaving 330 workers without a job.

A worker leaving for the day, who did not want to share her name, said when the news was released to employees during shift change Wednesday, “I saw a couple people physically shook. It was devastating. They been here 20 years or more. What am I gonna do now? Where am I gonna go? How am I going to pay my bills?”

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said, “They should feel like it's a slap in the face because it is.”

Hundreds of workers here hold high-paying skilled trade jobs like machinists. The parent company of Master Lock announced cuts will begin in October. Then the plant will fully close in March 2024.

“A century of work in Milwaukee evaporates just like that,” said Mayor Johnson. Which may set back the mayor’s goal to increase the city’s population to one million. But even more, how this could set back the Metcalfe Park Neighborhood, “Now they're sucking those jobs and those opportunities those family-supporting opportunities away. I had no heads up.”

Where Master Lock’s production will move, is unknown.

Master Lock employee DiAndre Jackson has 16 years with the company. As union treasurer, he worries about the 330 workers who learned they will be out of their jobs. “That was pretty hard, now you're getting phone calls from people like your mom saying hey your plant closing, you at home and you worked third shift you have no idea.”

DiAndre Jackson says the union's hope is to help negotiate a strong severance package for those who have not worked long enough to earn a pension, because what happened was to no fault of their own.

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