Plant Closing Puts 415 Out of Work
Posted April 3, 1997
CLAYTON — Champion Products' decision to close operations in this Johnston County town is putting 415 people out of work. The company will move its sewing and distribution operations to Mexico in a move to cut costs.
The company has operated in Clayton for nearly 50 years, and was its largest employer in the 70s. The factory makes sports uniforms and active wear.
Mayor Doug McCormac said the closing would have an adverse economic impact, but that he hoped it would not be permanent.
The county's unemployment rate is about 3 percent, due in part to Bayer Corp., which employs 800, and to the proximity of Research Triangle Park, where many county residents work. But for those whose skills are limited to the apparel industry, finding work in the area may be a substantial challenge.
Some employees said they knew the shutdown was coming, especially as management dismantled various areas of the plant. Others said the official word was a shock.
The closing will be handled in two stages, the first in May, the second by mid-June.
In North Carolina, textile and apparel jobs pay range is from $8 to more than $10 an hour, but wages in other countries for the same jobs are considerably lower.