DEVENS — Gillette has announced that it will close a small packaging operation in Devens, eliminating roughly 100 jobs typically filled by temporary workers.
The “pack to order” operation, which caters to retailers that need special packaging or displays for promotional reasons, will be relocated to Greensboro, N.C., said Gillette spokesman Eric Kraus.
The closure, scheduled to be complete by October, is part of an ongoing consolidation effort between Gillette and Procter & Gamble, the Cincinnati company that bought Gillette last year.
Kraus said P&G has a packaging facility in Greensboro, said Kraus.
The company has not made a decision regarding a larger packaging center in Devens that employs about 1,000 people, he said, most of whom are temporary. The larger operation is run by subcontractor Sonoco Products, of Hartsville, S.C.
”We are trying to optimize the packaging and distribution system,” Kraus said. “There’s a possibility that nothing happens. There’s been no decision made about the packaging operation.”
Meg Delorier, of MassDevelopment, the quasi-public agency charged with developing Devens, a former Army base, said the organization is “obviously very interested in what Procter & Gamble’s plans are.”
However, she said the state’s executive office of economic development is the point of contact with the company.
Joseph Donovan, a spokesman for that office, said state officials haven’t been in touch with P&G lately.
Both the state and MassDevelopment were apparently unaware of any plans to close the packaging facility until a story on the decision appeared yesterday in the Boston Globe.
Gillette is one of Devens’ largest employers, said Delorier, but pointed out that nearly all of the over 1,000 jobs are filled by temporary workers.
Kraus summed up the impact of the move by saying “it is jobs, but it’s not people.”
The Rev. Jim Dukowski, of St. Patrick’s Church in Lowell, disagreed.
”We are angered at these announced job cuts that will deprive over 100 workers and their families of their livelihood at a time when our community is reeling from massive flooding,” he said.
Dukowski works with the Merrimack Valley Project, a coalition of religious and community groups that has been trying to improve conditions for workers at Gillette’s two Devens facilities. He estimated that more than 300 workers might be affected by the closure.
The 100 figure is an estimate, said Kraus, and “at any given time, you could have one or a couple hundred people working there.”
MVP will fight to restore the jobs lost and to maintain the jobs at Gillette’s larger plant, said Dukowski.
”That would be more disastrous” if it closed, he said.