75-year-old Central Texas glass plant shuts down lines, lays off dozens

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) The Owens Illinois Brockway Glass plant in Waco followed through on plans announced in September and laid off 75 employees Thursday.

The layoffs at the 75-year-old plant had been looming since late summer. (Photo by Bill Gowdy/file)

Longtime employee William McClendon did not lose his job but said it was a difficult day for everyone.

"We're losing 75 great employees, friends. I mean we're like family here."

The move comes just three weeks before Thanksgiving.

Nearly 175 employees remain on the job, running two furnaces and five production lines, down from three furnaces and 7 seven lines.

At one time the plant, which went online in 1944, had a workforce of 700.

Employees leaving the plant Thursday said the laid-off workers reported for work Thursday morning and then some just walked off the job later in the morning.

"It's just been real quiet just real quiet and sad the last couple weeks and I'm just being so fast you know,” McClendon said.

The layoffs had been looming since late summer.

"The particular line of business that they do here is related to beer particularly traditional beers like Miller. Those are seeing some declines in consumption and that therefore impacts the amount of bottles that are necessary to supply the consumer needs,” Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Kris Collins said.

"We know that this is impacting the local facility but we feel confident in the future that these jobs will come back and they're going to continue to grow and be a vibrant part of the area," he said.

Employees who weren’t laid off, such as McClendon, say they hope business will pick up.

"Hopefully the layoffs won't be real long hopefully we will be able to get everything back together and make everybody will be able to come back to work,” McClendon said.