Future uncertain for laid-off RR Donnelley employees

Many employees of RR Donnelley's Jefferson City plant had their last full day of work Monday, with massive layoffs to begin October 1.

The company is one of Jefferson City's largest employers. October 1, they plan to lay off around 500 employees and permanently close the plant.

Data Reporting Specialist Randy Ponder said the atmosphere at the plant was sad Monday. "It was a great place to work, it had great benefits and great pay," Ponder said. "It will be deeply missed."

The plant, which specialized in printing services, was formerly part of Von Hoffman Press. RR Donnelley acquired the facility in 2007.

Ponder said morale at the plant had been low since their workforce found out over the summer, but Monday was the worst.

"I didn't hear a whole lot from people today... It's just the emotion of it. heads are down, people are really sad to be losing their jobs," Ponder said.

Auxiliary Operator Tony Bruso says he thinks when the plant closes, the company will lose irreplacable equipment and employees.

"I think it was a bad decision for at least the people around here, but for the company also," Bruso said. "For the materials we ran and the equipment we used, a lot of the other plants Donnelley has don't use this equipment. Once that stuff's gone, it's gone. It's almost like a lost art form."

Ponder said since layoffs were announced, around 50 people relocated to other RR Donnelley plants in other parts of the country to continue work. However, he said, the majority won't have that opportunity.

Beginning in October, a handful of staff will remain at the facility to get the last products out the door and facilitate the shutdown of the plant's equipment.

25 year-old Bruso started working at the plant after he graduated high school. Although he said he will miss the good pay and benefits, he said he is grateful to be walking away with years of industrial experience.

"Machine manufacturing, running machine equipment, operating equipment, operating binding lines, things like that. I'll be leaving with manufacturing experience for sure," Bruso said.

Bruso said he plans to continue working elsewhere and try to enroll in school.

Like many of the others laid off, he will have to reassess his options starting in October.