Koch Industries in North Carolina: Layoffs, Part 1

May 12, 2014

It’s not just the Kochs’ policy agenda that has hurt North Carolina workers and families. After Koch Industries bought chemical manufacturer Invista in 2004, and Georgia-Pacific Corporation in 2005 – both companies with a major footprint in the state – these subsidiaries laid off hundreds of North Carolina workers. Whose side are the Kochs on? Clearly not that of working families.

The most recent string of layoffs came just in time for the holidays last year, when Koch Industry subsidiary Invista announced it would lay off 100 workers from its Wilmington chemical facility at the end of 2013. This in addition to 60 workers who were previously laid off from the plant in March 2012.

In 2008, Koch subsidiary Georgia-Pacific idled its Lumber and Plywood Plant in Whiteville, laying off 400 employees. Although the company suggested the plant could be re-opened if economic conditions improved, six years later, the plant is still listed as “idled.” Another Georgia-Pacific facility in Roxboro laid off 118 workers in 2010.

In the years following Koch Industries’ acquisition of companies with plants in the state, hundreds of workers have lost their jobs. Is this the business record of someone you want dictating the future of North Carolina?

November, 2013: Koch Subsidiary Laid Off 100 Workers From A Wilmington Chemical Plant

Koch Industries Subsidiary Laid Off 100 Workers From Its Wilmington Plant At The End Of 2013. According to the Wichita Business Journal, “Invista will lay off 100 workers at a plant in Wilmington, N.C. by the end of January as it shuts down production of dimethyl terephthalate, or DMT, a chemical compound it had been producing there. […] It will continue to produce other chemical compounds at the site and 50 other employers will remain there ‘beyond February 2014,’ Standifer said. Invista is a subsidiary of Koch Industries Inc., both of which are based in Wichita.” [Wichita Business Journal, 11/6/13]

Invista Had Announced In 2012 That It Would Stop Manufacturing A Particular Chemical By The End Of 2013. According to the Wilmington Star News, “Invista, which is owned by Kansas-based Koch Industries, said in September 2012 that it would stop making DMT at Wilmington. At the time, Standifer said the company didn’t know how many people would be affected, but the company said it needed ‘a stable workforce through the end of 2013.’” [Wilmington Star News, 11/6/13]

50 People Would Remain Employed At The Factory After Layoffs. According to the Wilmington Star News, “About 50 employees will remain ‘beyond February 2014’ at the plant on U.S. 421 North as it continues to produce Terate HT polyols, a product used in the manufacture of insulation.” [Wilmington Star News, 11/6/13]

Koch Industries Subsidiary Had Previously Laid Off 60 Employees In March 2012. According to the Wilmington Star News, “In March 2012, Invista said it was cutting 60 employees at the plant, but that 225 people remained employed there.” [Wilmington Star News, 11/6/13]

Koch Subsidiary Laid Off Over 500 Workers From Two North Carolina Lumber Plants

Koch Industries Bought Georgia-Pacific Corp In 2005

Koch Industries Purchased Georgia-Pacific Corp In 2005. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Koch Industries Inc. agreed to purchase building-products and paper maker Georgia-Pacific Corp. for $13.2 billion, bringing the maker of Brawny paper towels and Dixie cups under the roof of what will become the nation’s largest private company by revenue. Under terms of the deal, Koch will make a $48 per share cash tender to Georgia-Pacific shareholders, a price 39% above where Georgia Pacific’s shares closed trading on Friday. Koch, based in Wichita, Kan., will also assume $7.8 billion of Georgia-Pacific debt outstanding. As a company that has fervently maintained its private ownership, Koch has assembled a sprawling industrial conglomerate with interests in everything from oil refining to cattle ranching, asphalt production and carpet. With the addition of Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific, Koch’s annual revenue will total about $80 billion, company officials said.” [Wall Street Journal, 9/14/05]

In 2008, Georgia-Pacific Lumber Plant In Whiteville Went Idle And Laid Off 400 Workers

In 2008, Georgia-Pacific’s Whiteville Lumber And Plywood Plant Laid Off 400 Workers. According to WWAY, “On the local employment front, the Georgia-Pacific Lumber and Plywood Plant in Whiteville has announced it will be laying off 400 employees. The news is not good, and obviously has Whiteville residents concerned. Georgia-Pacific blames the layoffs on the slumping housing market. The company makes plywood and lumber, and said it will shut down the Whiteville facility by Christmas.” [WWAY, 10/3/08]

Georgia-Pacific Held Open The Possibility Of Reopening Whiteville Plant If Economic Conditions Improved. According to WWAY, “Julie Davis, Georgia-Pacific spokesperson said, ‘These are very difficult decisions, ones that the company doesn’t take lightly. We understand the impact that this has on the employees and the community, and we’re doing everything we can to help our employees as we wind down our operations over the next 60 days.’ A small staff of workers will stay on board to maintain the facility. The plant could reopen if the economy turns around, but that is a distant hope for current workers facing a grim Christmas season.” [WWAY, 10/3/08]

As Of April 2014, The Whiteville Plant Was Still Listed As “Idled.” According to a Georgia-Pacific North Carolina State Fact Sheet, “Georgia-Pacific North Carolina; A Look At Our Facilities […] Location: Whiteville- Softwood Plywood (Idled) […] Location: Whiteville- Southern Pine Sawmill (Idled).” [Georgia-Pacific North Carolina State Fact Sheet, Viewed 4/1/14]

In 2010, Georgia-Pacific Lumber Plant In Roxboro Laid Off 118 Workers

In 2010, Roxboro Georgia-Pacific Plant Laid Off 118 Workers. According to Triangle Business Journal, “Georgia-Pacific has notified the North Carolina Department of Commerce that it will permanently lay off 118 employees at its wood products plant in Roxboro, but the company leaves open the option of recalling employees to restart the plant if market conditions improve. Georgia-Pacific’s Roxboro plant manager, Michael Golden, said in a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act letter to Commerce that only a ‘select few’ employees will remain to operate the plant’s I-line. The plant had already begun temporary layoffs in June and July with the anticipation that the reductions would last less than six months, but as market conditions in the engineered lumber market continue to decline, Golden says, the plant needed to lay off more employees.” [Triangle Business Journal, 9/17/10]

Paid for by American Bridge 21st Century Foundation