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P&G wants smaller payroll

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Procter & Gamble is asking about 300 of the Albany plant's 1,200 employees to take what they call a voluntary separation package.

P&G leaders say they're offering the packages to make the plant more effective and efficient.

They say it's not an indication the plant will close, just an effort to make the Albany facility more competitive within Procter and Gamble.

Procter & Gamble company officials have been vocal about high local health care costs, property taxes, and the state tax on energy used in manufacturing but this is a separate issue.

In February, the company cut 150 contract employees and now these voluntary separations are being offered across the board and have the community worried about what's next.

It's hard to imagine how the voluntary separation packages Procter & Gamble is offering to 300 employees is a positive step for the company, but today economic development officials who have been working with the company say it is.

"This is an effort they're making internally to make this plant more productive and cost efficient," said Albany Dougherty Economic Development Commission President Ted Clem.

Company officials refused to speak with us on camera but said this was one cost issue they could control and it's just part of the way they can do business and remain competitive.

"The explanation that we received from their management was this is something they have to do to make their internal production numbers and cost numbers get in line with the rest of their competing plants within Procter and Gamble," said Clem.

For businesses and charities in the community who rely on Procter & Gamble it was another blow.

A business like The Shoe Box, which relies on Procter & Gamble to drive business through its door, stands to lose twice.

"It's definitely scary, in the sense we would lose possibly that guy on both sides," said Michael Mulford, The Shoe Box Industrial Manager. "We would lose him, because he doesn't have a steady income to come in and buy your soft toes and everyday shoes and then him not being an employee at P&G mean they're not buying him a pair of steel toes."

Procter & Gamble employees are also the top contributor to the United Way and while the charity is considering what the separation package might mean to their organization and their partner agencies, they hope those who chose the separation might continue donating.

 Economic Development officials say they'll continue talking with P&G and in the future hope to be able to help them cut expenses, but not at a cost to the community or employees.

"The two that we can control locally are health care costs and property taxes and we believe that there is momentum taking places in both of those areas," said Clem.

Ted Clem said even though local governments have their own budget issues, they hope to be able to announce some ways they can help Procter & Gamble cut costs in the next several months.

Plant officials say they're confident they can get 300 workers to accept the voluntary separation packages.

They would not say whether they would consider layoffs if they don't reach the numbers they need.

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