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Plant closing in Pittsfield; 300 workers to lose jobs

PITTSFIELD (WGME) -- United Technologies Corporation, the 2nd largest employer in Pittsfield, is shutting down its factory there and putting 300 people out of work. That factory has been in operation since the 1950's. It survived not only the Great Recession, but survived changing hands several times.

But now, UTC's Fire & Security plant is closing in the coming year. And when it does, the town and this region of Maine will lose 300 jobs. Town manager Kathryn Ruth says she found out when employees found out. She says "They have a new reorganization plan, and unfortunately we're part of it."

The factory manufactures detectors and other fire safety equipment. Employees we spoke with were told not to talk to the media. But some told us off camera they feel blind-sided by the announcement, especially when they found out as many as 200 jobs will be going to the company's plants in Mexico and China.

Kathryn Ruth says "We've been told this is part of a move by UTC to reduce their floor space to meet the demands for their products." And Mike Raven, a local fabricator, says "I think it's a shame that our jobs are overseas. They ought to bring them back in the United States. We've lost too many jobs here."

Some employees may be able to relocate to the company's other plant in North Carolina. UTC officials told Pittsfield's town manager the layoffs will start this fall and the plant will officially close on March first of next year. They also told her there was nothing she could do to keep those jobs in Maine.

Ruth says "That's why it's so important, if the decision is irreversible, that we find another employer to go into that facility." Town leaders were planning to make a last ditch effort to try and persuade the company to change its mind and keep the Pittsfield plant open.

Town leaders were ready to work with state and federal officials, hoping to secure some financial incentives. But the company says its decision to close had nothing to do with the finances or even the performance at the plant. Company officials insist their decision to close is final.