FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — More than 100 employees of Philips Lighting plant will be out of jobs soon after the company announced it would be moving manufacturing to Mexico and closing operations by the end of the year.
At 56 years old, Joseph Santos has worked at the company for 37 years, and he said it’s going to be hard to start over.
“That’s the only real job I’ve had because I started when I was 18,” Santos said. “So it’s like, what do I do now?”
Santos started at Philips Lighting plant when he was a senior in high school, saying he only planned to stay there for a couple years to save up money for college, but he ultimately decided to stay.
“It was such a great place and they paid well,” Santos said.
Santos carved out a career as an assembler at the plant, building lifelong friendships along the way. Most of the employees have similar stories of longevity.
“We kind of grew up together, we got to see each other’s kids and we would hang out and it was like family,” Santos said.
For the first time since the company announced it would be leaving the city, Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia spoke out publicly, condemning the company’s decision to leave.
“If we’re good enough to buy their products, we should be good enough to make their products,” Correia said.
Correia said he would vow to help the middle-aged workers find new employment after the company closes its doors for the final time. But for now, employees like Santos said they are trying to stay positive.
“Hopefully we’ll get some good training and we’ll start over again,” Santos said.
Correia also said he plans to actively market the facility in the industrial park since it can accommodate 600 people and he doesn’t want it to sit vacant.
The company said layoffs will begin over the summer and roll out in phases through the end of the year before the plant closes for good.