ProBuild announced tonight it will consolidate its Wheaton and Yorkville, Ill., operations--the two yards where Teamsters have been on strike since July 28--into the Yorkville facility and will close its Hampshire, Ill, component manufacturing facility, all effective Sept. 30.
"The changes at our Illinois facilities are a direct result of the struggling Chicago home building market, which is down 82% since 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau," Denver-based ProBuild, America's second-biggest LBM operation, said in a statement. "The consolidation will impact 40 employees in the market. Severance packages have been offered to all eligible employees, and some employees will have opportunities to work elsewhere within the ProBuild organization."
The statement made no mention of the strike by roughly 50 to 60 members of Teamsters Local 673, most of them drivers, who walked out of the Wheaton and Yorkville yards in late July in a dispute over ProBuild's next contract with the local. The two sides disagree over health insurance, pay protections, seniority rights, and working conditions. ProBuild also is seeking a 5% pay cut from the Teamsters. But later, in reply to a question, from ProSales, ProBuild marketing director Carolyn Atkinson said the strike wasn't a factor.
"These changes are strictly business decisions related to the struggling Chicago home building market," Atkinson said in an e-mail. "They will allow us to operate more efficiently and continue to provide the same level of service for our customers. This area can no longer support three ProBuild facilities."
Officials for ProBuild and the union are slated to meet with a federal mediator on Wednesday, Sept. 15. It's the second planned meeting since the strike began. Throughout the past six weeks, "We continue to have no interruptions in our service levels or see any deviations in our order files," Atkinson said.
ProBuild's announcement also came just a few days after the company's area vice president, Doug Jones, left the company to join a market rival, US LBM. Atkinson said the resignation didn't influence ProBuild's decision, as discussions around consolidating locations took place before Jones quit. Dave Mills, a vetern of the Chicago market who most recently was the general manager of ProBuild's Delaware, Ohio, operation, has returned to run the Chicago market.