Shifts start ending at RR Donnelley

The RR Donnelley plant off Industrial Boulevard has started ending shifts.

The RR Donnelley plant off Industrial Boulevard has started ending shifts.

As local printing plant RR Donnelley winds down its operations in Jefferson City, many of its 475 employees are starting to seek and find other jobs in various places, while others are taking time off to rest and re-evaluate their careers.

RR Donnelley previously announced it would start closing its local plant Oct. 1. For some employees, their final shifts were Monday or Tuesday.

Leon Berhorst, an RR Donnelley employee who worked his last shift Tuesday, said that after the closure announcement management converted a conference room into a manned “career headquarters” with computers and printers. Staff members have been available to help walk employees through the process of applying to different jobs.

He agreed with the assessment of another employee who estimated that around 60 percent of employees seeking jobs have found one. Some employees said other workers there have taken jobs with Scholastic Inc. or Modern Litho-Print. Others, they say, have transferred to RR Donnelley’s Owensville plant.

Chris Huckleberry, general manager of Command Web, said that local book manufacturer has offered jobs to at least 12 former Donnelley employees and six have accepted so far.

He said the number of positions they have open ultimately will be determined by the quality of applicants. “There’s a saying, ‘You always have positions for good people,’” he said. “We’re really looking to meet as many people as we can. We can’t bring in 500 jobs, but every little bit helps.”

He said Command Web hasn’t had a deluge of applicants, but he expects that more will apply now that RR Donnelley is actually closing.

Jimmy Maasen, chief marketing officer with Quaker Windows in Freeburg, said his company has made job offers for several RR Donnelley employees. So far, he said, one has accepted.

Even a Las Vegas printer has been actively seeking Donnelley employees. Creel Printing has advertised in the News Tribune seeking pressmen/bindery operators.

Maggie Allred, the company’s director of human resources, said they have between six and eight positions open. They’re located in a small valley in Vegas. “We’ve pretty much tapped out our market here,” she said, which is why they’re targeting out-of-work Donnelley employees.

Berhorst said employees were given a severance package of one week’s pay for every year of employment, up to 10 years. After that, employees were given two weeks’ pay up to 52 weeks of severance pay.

He said he has a job offer, and “a couple of options. I’m still exploring which way I want to go.” He said many RR Donnelley employees aren’t actively seeking employment. “We’ve worked a lot of overtime throughout the years, and a lot of guys want to take some time off. A lot of guys are just wanting some time off to clear their minds and see what’s out there and what direction they’re going to go.”

He said employees were offered an option that allowed them to collect up to 20 weeks’ of unemployment, plus an amount equal to what their severance packages would have been, although it isn’t called “severance pay” under this program.

“A lot of guys want to take advantage of that...it’s kind of hard to walk away from it,” he said.

The local RR Donnelley plant referred a call from the News Tribune to Phyllis Burgee, the company’s communications director. She did not return a call Tuesday, and she hasn’t returned calls to the newspaper since the announcement that the local plant would close.

Randy Allen, president of the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce, previously said the chamber will “do everything we can” to help employees. The chamber’s efforts included assisting with a job fair and aiding Nichols Career Center with a welding program targeting Donnelley employees.

Allen did not return a call for comment Tuesday.

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