Oscar Mayer is shutting down its headquarters. Before you panic, everyone’s favorite wiener will not cease to exist. Rather, parent company Kraft Heinz will be moving the brand’s operations from Madison, Wisconsin, to Chicago. The move will add around 250 jobs to the Chicago area, but Madison will end up with approximately 750 unemployed former Oscar-Mayer workers, out of the total employment net-loss.
Oscar Mayer had been operating in Wisconsin since 1919. The brand had become such an integral part of the community over the past century that the move has devastated locals.
“This is a critical step in our plan to eliminate excess capacity and reduce operational redundancies for the new combined company," Kraft Heinz senior vice president and spokesman Michael Mullen said in a statement. “We have reached this difficult but necessary decision after thoroughly exploring extensive alternatives and options."
Oscar Mayer employees were fully integrated into the community: They had “adopted” the Madison East High School and employees had mentored and sponsored students. They had also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to local charities like United Way.
"When you take the payroll, the production, the packaging materials and all that goes into the operation at Oscar Mayer, which has been going on for over 100 years, and then extend that to the dry cleaners, the retailers, the supermarkets, the neighborhood groceries, the local dining spots, kids sporting activities, (the impact) is very significant," Mayor Paul Soglin told The Chicago Tribune.