Rumor of 3M closing proves false

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 | 6:51 p.m. CST; updated 4:17 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

COLUMBIA - Columbia 3M workers got more bad news last week. Fortunately, it wasn’t true.

The Central Regional Workforce Investment Board, a nonprofit agency funded by the federal government, sent more than 200 Columbia 3M employees a letter stating job training and other assistance was available as a result of “the closing of the 3M located in Columbia, MO.”

But the plant is not closing, assured plant manager David Robinson.

“3M is still open and will continue operations,” Robinson said. “We have asked the (agency) to correct the error and send out another letter.”

The statement about the closure was an unintentional error, and correction letters will be sent out, said Jim Dickerson, C-WIB chairman.

The Missourian learned about the letter after a concerned 3M employee called the newsroom and wanted to know if the letter was true.

Robinson said the plant will shed about half of its 500 workers by next summer. The 3M plant is consolidating operations and some jobs are moving to Singapore and California. Those losing their Columbia jobs can apply to move to another 3M location or look for work elsewhere.

“(They) are being offered substantial transitional support programs and may also pursue other opportunities within the company,” Robinson said.

The employees affected by the separation have already been notified.

The letter outlined options available through the federal Dislocated Worker Program to those who are being separated from 3M. The error in the letter does not change eligibility requirements, Dickerson said.

Dickerson said special, no-cost training is available for the workers because some of their jobs are being lost to foreign competition.

“We look at what skills workers have as well as skills deficiencies and have the ability to send them to training,” he said. “We need to send them to school to get the skill to find jobs to make money.”

The C-WIB has been in Columbia since 2000 and covers 19 counties. Dickerson said there are about 2,000 people in the program. More than 90 percent of the people who have entered the Dislocated Workers Program have received jobs.

“They are offering a very good thing,” Robinson said.

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