Workers cope with impending printing plant closure
Some employees at LSC Communications’ printing plant in Strasburg figured its closure was imminent after financial downturns in recent months, but the loss of nearly 400 jobs is still a heavy blow.
“I just started in September,” says Kimberly Carlysle, who drives a forklift in LSC’s shipping department. “This was going to be my last job. I’m 50 this year.”
Barbara Frye worked for LSC for more than 35 years, including when it was known as the Shenandoah Valley Press, and planned to retire this summer. “It was a shock,” she says. “[We] just didn’t know when all this would take place. We have to accept this big change and be there for each other as a work family.”
On Jan. 14, the Chicago-based commercial printing company announced it would close three plants, including the Strasburg facility, in July. The company reported a $169 million loss in the fourth quarter of 2019 and its stock was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in December, having lost 97% of its share price since 2016. LSC closed its plant in Lynchburg in June 2019, displacing nearly 500 workers.
In response to the layoffs, the Virginia Employment Commission sent a Rapid Response team to help employees find new jobs.
LSC is providing laid-off employees with severance packages, transition assistance and, in some cases, relocation options within the company. Carlysle’s severance package was better than she expected, but “it was a huge shock to hear we were closing,” she says. “The whole plant was in disbelief.”
Some employees have received job offers from book printer Berryville Graphics, a major regional employer, and more than 50 local businesses showed up for a job fair at LSC in February.
“There are very few print plants in the area. We reached out to their HR the day of the announcement,” says Wanda Pairo, Berryville Graphics’ human resources manager. “We have open positions, and they have a similar skill set.”
For Frye, it’s time to turn the page.
“Yes, it’s a sad thing what’s going on, and I’m not blaming anyone for the closing,” she says. “It’s no one’s fault. It is what it is, a start of a new chapter in everyone’s life.”