Levi's sweetens plant closure with $2.8m community relationsplan

SAN FRANCISCO, CA: Levi Strauss has implemented an extensive community and employee relations plan to coincide with its decision to close six US manufacturing plants.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA: Levi Strauss has implemented an extensive community and employee relations plan to coincide with its decision to close six US manufacturing plants.

Last week, the company announced it would be closing the manufacturing operations as part of its strategic shift away from owner-and-operated manufacturing. The company is also focusing its resources away from manufacturing and toward product marketing. As a result, plants in Texas, California, and Georgia will be closed by October 2002. Ketchum is one of the PR agencies the company retains.

While Levi's has been negotiating with the unions involved in the plants to hammer out "transition

payments to employees, the company has also devised a number of community and employee services. One is the addition of an employee advocate role in each plant location.

The advocate will help laid-off staffers tap into the wide network of support available to them.

"It can be overwhelming for people,

said Linda Butler, Levi's senior manager of corporate communications. "This individual will stay in the community for a number of months to really help the employees get information and access all kinds of resources that are available to them through the community, such as educational institutions and local government."

Through the Levi Strauss Foundation, a sum of $2.8 million has also been set aside to help the communities - some of which depended heavily on the manufacturing plants - transition to other revenue sources.

At the same time, Levi's will continue to focus on realigning the company's image. "I think what we are seeing from the media is a very fair assessment of where the company is going and the business rationale for the closings,

Butler said. "It's about our continued shift of focus."

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