Yaphank packaging plant to shut; 150 to lose jobs

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Whitman Packaging, a subsidiary of Melville-based Estée Lauder, is closing its Yaphank facility Dec. 31 because of the economic downturn, eliminating about 150 full-time jobs.

Whitman, which also has a plant in Islandia, packages products primarily for Estée Lauder department store displays and can employ more than 400 people during busy times, like holidays, an Estée Lauder spokeswoman said.

In a statement released Friday, the company said the closing is part of an economic restructuring announced in February. "We are taking steps on many fronts, including reducing operating expenses," the statement said. "This includes every area of our business, from our factories to our front-office staffing to our marketing and sales divisions."

Some of the facility's 150 full-time employees could be assigned to other jobs in the company, the spokeswoman said. Also, the company is working on severance packages for those workers who will not be retained.

Layoffs for full-timers could begin in October, according to the company's notice to the state Department of Labor under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. The law, which generally applies to companies with 50 employees or more, is designed to help workers adjust to job losses because of closings, layoffs and relocation.

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The spokeswoman did not answer questions about plans for the Islandia plant.

The company said its lease for the Yaphank facility ends in December, which was a factor in the decision to close.

"This is a difficult step, and one that is being carried out with a respect for employees that reflects our company's values," said the statement.

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