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Shoe to cut Plant 2's second shift

Red Wing Shoe Co. announced Thursday that come February it will eliminate the second shift at Plant 2 in the Red Wing Industrial Park.

The company also is closing its manufacturing plant in Danville, Ky., and will move some work from that factory to Red Wing.

In total, approximately 200 workers will be laid off.

The Shoe is restructuring its domestic manufacturing operations to adjust to the struggling economy, company officials said.

"During the recession we have been operating our plants at less than ideal efficiency," President Dave Murphy said.

Murphy said high unemployment among blue-collar workers has hurt demand for work boots. Over the past year the company asked its workers to scale back their hours by participating in a shared-work program and taking voluntary days off.

Shoe officials had hoped that would be enough until the economy turned around, Murphy said, but given the nation's high unemployment figures they don't believe a recovery is coming soon.

Given that outlook, the company needed to restructure its domestic manufacturing, said Peter Engel, a company spokesman.

The company will offer early retirement packages to older workers in the hope of avoiding local layoffs, Engel said, and then will merge second-shift workers into the first shift. Depending on how many workers accept early retirement, up to 60 people could lose their jobs here.

Workers were told Wednesday and Thursday.

Red Wing resident Mary Alms, a second-shift worker at the Red Wing plant, didn't have much to say about the news Thursday.

"At least we still have a job. That's the main thing," she said.

Engel said workers at the Red Wing plant and the Shoe's Potosi, Mo., facility will return to working normal hours.

The company will move operations from Danville to the Red Wing and Potosi facilities. Management chose to close the Danville plant because it had the least amount of additional factory space to increase capacity when demand picks up.

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