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140 lose jobs in Gastonia as Hanes pulls out

The Hanesbrands Inc. yarn plant in Gastonia is among nine plants across five countries closing as the company increases production in Asia to save money.

About 140 people work at the plant on Poplar Street in Gastonia.

Among them was Bill Sanders, 69, who found out about the closing when he showed up at the plant today around 7 a.m. Sanders has worked there for ten years, but has been in textiles a total of 53 years.

“It all ended today. My whole life changed,” he said. “Have you ever had your heart torn out of you? That's what it did to me. I went weak.”

Sanders said some of his co-workers cried and hugged each other after they found out about the closing, which was effective immediately.

“It was all so quick,” he said. “Why did it have to happen? It was a good plant with the best people in Gaston County. I was happy there. That's where I was going to retire. I'll never find another job in textiles.”

Sanders said employees were told they will be paid for the rest of the week and for the next 60 days.

According to a Hanesbrand Inc. news release, other plants closing this week include the company's knit-fabric textile plant in Forest City in Rutherford County, which has 470 employees.

Operations at Hanesbrand's sheer hosiery inventory warehouse in Rockingham, which has 15 employees, are expected to end by the end of November, the company said.

Production is expected to end by the end of the year at the company's yarn plant in Eden, affecting 120 employees. In 2009, the company expects to close its knit-fabric textile plant in Eden, affecting about 600 employees.

The company said it will provide severance benefits and career transition assitance to employees.

According to reports in the Associated Press, the maker of Hanes and Champion apparel says it is expanding its supply chain production capability in Asia and consolidating into fewer and larger plants in lower-cost countries.

It expects to close seven plants in the U.S. and Central America by the end of 2008 and will close one plant in Mexico and one in the U.S. in 2009.

The moves will cost $76 million. Hanesbrands says it has now taken about $204 million of the $250 million in restructing charges it expects to incur since it was spun off from food maker Sara Lee in 2006.

Hanes has about 50,000 employees in 25 countries.