Oreck Employees Tight Lipped About Plant Closing

Ten days after Hurricane Katrina, Oreck was the first plant on the Gulf Coast to put people back to work. Now more than a year after the storm, company leaders say keeping the plant up and running on the coast is just too much to handle.

"Conditions in Mississippi have changed. There are more jobs than there are labor. We have less than 50 percent of the people that we had pre-Katrina. We had a very difficult time in that respect. Insurance costs have gone up dramatically. There are a lot of things that have affected the business decision," says Tom Oreck.

Regardless of what pushed company leaders to make the decision, it's pulling the plug on hundreds of jobs. In fact, by the end of October 2007, no one will be working in the Long Beach facility. Right now, not a single employee is talking about it.

So why are people so tight-lipped? One worker told WLOX that along with the news of the plant's closing, workers also received letters instructing them not to talk to the media. Making Oreck workers just as loyal to the company as leaders say the company is to its workers.

"Our people come first and this change we are not happy about, but feel that it is the right business choice," says Tom Oreck.

One of the incentives Oreck leaders received when they moved the company to Harrison County was a 10 year tax exemption. Now some local leaders are questioning the plant's decision to close before its first tax bill is due.

However, CEO Tom Oreck feels that the company was loyal to Harrison County. He also says that Oreck has fulfilled all of its commitments as it relates to economic development and that company leaders have done everything that they said they would do.