GLOBAL: Rise of bagless vacuums leads to Hoover factory closure

By Zeba Fatima

US: The Canton, Ohio facility that produces bags for some Hoover commercial vacuum cleaners will close by the end of the year, the company revealed last week.

The 17 jobs at the TTi Floor Care North America plant will be relocated to China, said International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers president and business manager Nick J. Tomey.

Company officials limited comment to a press release that did not mention what would become of the positions.

“The company’s decision was based on discontinuing the 20 year old Elite line, as well as a significant decrease in market demand for vacuum bags given the surge in sales of bagless vacuums over the past 10 years,” the release said.

Hoover once did much of its floor care appliance manufacturing in Ohio. The brand was owned by Maytag Corp. until Whirlpool acquired Maytag in 2006. Whirlpool made it clear that it had no intention of holding on to Hoover, and sold the business to TTI in December of that year. The majority of Hoover appliance production in Ohio was closed down in 2007.

Tomey said the union had tried to get the company to keep the plant open with workers performing other tasks, such as repackaging returned items. He said the company decided to follow the path it took about five years ago when it closed its main facility in North Canton, US and moved many jobs abroad, including to China.

“When we asked about the repackaging, they said ‘We have other facilities that do that,’” Tomey said.

“I think one is in Mexico. They said doing the rework here wasn’t feasible.”

He said the Canton facility has struggled since the main plant closed, and work his members used to do had been outsourced to China and other places.

“For years, this plant has produced and made a great deal of money for the Hoover Co. by manufacturing these disposable bags,” Tomey said.

“But there has been a lot of downsizing, and it has gotten to the point where the production was just too low.”

In the release, the company said it was committed to making sure the affected workers received outplacement and other benefits.
Tomey said the union is working to make sure employees get severance and other benefits above what is called for in the contract. He hasn’t given up hope that the plant won’t close.

“We’re hoping in six months the economy picks up and they will be able to use this facility as a rework center,” he said.

“We are still bargaining.”

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