As the presidential candidates debated about the down economy, more than 100 workers at a Des Moines plant are witnessing it firsthand. Eagle Iron Works has been in business for 140 years. But a potential new buyer could mean layoffs for the entire workforce in just a matter of days.
“I’ve worked there over 30 years, well over half my life, and I was hoping to reach retirement working there, but that`s probably not going to happen,” said an Eagle Iron Works employee who did not want to be identified, “The rumors circulating in the plant are very hard to deal with, because one day we are going to get to keep our jobs and a day or two later they don’t know or they're moving the jobs away.”
The fact that Eagle Iron Works has been in negotiations for months with an out of state buyer was common knowledge, but where that sale would leave the hundreds of employees remained unknown.
Tuesday, it seemed those questions were answered, when employees were greeted by a sign that read in part:
"Since posting a notice about the possible sale of Eagle Iron Works, we’ve been discussing with the potential buyer the future of the manufacturing in this Des Moines facility. Based on those conversations, we think it’s important to let you know that once the sale closes, the buyer does not intend to manufacture products here at the Des Moines facility. As a result, we will complete the outstanding orders we have and will not take any new ones. We anticipate the last full day for all employees to work will be mid- October.”
Wednesday, Eagle Iron Works confirmed that in a statement. In its entirety, the statement read:
“Since the death of its longtime president, Andrew S. Krantz, his estate has been working to sell Eagle Iron Works. For the past three months, we've been discussing the sale with a potential buyer with the hope they would continue manufacturing in this Des Moines facility. Based upon the buyer's current manufacturing capacity, we’ve been told that they do not intend to manufacture products here in Des Moines. We now anticipate that the last full day for all employees to work will be mid-October. It’s our intention to keep our employees working as long as possible to complete the machines that are now in production. We deeply regret the loss of jobs for our hard working employees and for the city of Des Moines as well."
Employees in the meantime are trying to stay optimistic. One told Channel 13 News, “I just hope there’s a miracle and somehow they decide to keep the jobs in Des Moines.”
Management told Channel 13 they have been working with the Union through all of this, but employees said that the union is part of the problem, and many have since left it. We tried to get in touch with union leaders ourselves, but were told they could not talk about it at all until tomorrow. We also attempted to contact the potential buyer, but calls were not returned.