Siemens employee reacts to Burlington plant closing

BURLINGTON, Iowa (KWQC) - A big loss in Burlington for 125 people losing their jobs at the Siemens plant. The German-based company which has operated in Burlington is closing its door in January.

“Our last day will be December 21st, four days before Christmas and that's one of the most heartbreaking things about it. It won't be a very merry Christmas for a lot of the people in Burlington,” said Robert Morrison, Siemens employee.

As the days are getting closer to Siemens’ closing, the reality is also starting to sink in for Robert Morrison.

“It was last Thursday when they hurled out the machines that I ran. It hurts, it hurts, part of my life is gone away, but that's part of life, life has changed,” said Morrison.

For 31 years the steam turbine company has not only put food on the table for Morrison, but he's found a family within his coworkers.

“I love the people I work with. We consider ourselves family, we are a very tight knit workforce,” said Morrison.

That’s why he was devastated when the company announced in April it was closing.

“We had no idea that this was coming. This was like getting kicked in the stomach, we are just in a state of shock,” said Morrison.

TV6 reached out to Siemens and a spokesman with the company says the decision was made to meet the competitive pressures in the global energy market. In response, all employees will receive a severance package. They also say “we thank all employees for their continued hard work, dedicated services, and professionalism,"

Morrison says he still doesn't understand why they are leaving since the company also bought a new product line.

“Our burden rate is $109.00 an hour which is really low for heavy manufacturing and that's why this plant closing makes no sense to me,” said Morrison.

The decision not only affects employees but the town as well.

“It’s a tough situation, it really is, it's hard on everybody, but trying to make the best of it,” said Jeremy Hess, Director of Economic Development for Greater Burlington Partnership.

Hess says he knows Siemens had to make a business decision. His company has since been working with Siemens to help the employees find new jobs. Just last week, they held a job fair inside of Siemens.

“We just want to do our very best to see that they get homes and I want them to all stay here in Burlington,” said Hess. “I don't want to send them off to someone else's workforce,”

Morrison says Siemens is known for paying its employees well. Although he will be retiring soon, he worries for his buddies.

“I’ll do okay, my heart goes out to the young kids that are working there with families,” said Morrison. “That are either going to have to move or take a big cut in pay to stay in this area,”

Morrison also says despite the company leaving, he is thankful for the experience and only wished his son and grandson could have worked for the company as well.

The facility is expected to close in January. The property will be decommissioned and held for future sale by Siemens real estate.