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Mike Carlin, who has worked at the Oscar Mayer plant for 23 years, says it's sad to leave family and friends as the plant prepares to end production on Thursday, putting the lid on nearly a century of making hot dogs and cold cuts.At its peak in the 1970s, the plant employed as many as 4,000 people.Mc Dougal, 49, said she is stunned that she will leave the company without health insurance; she is one year short of the 30 years of seniority needed to get that benefit."I wrecked my body (for the company) and got no health care," she said.
In the factory, hot dogs were king, packaged at a rate of 10,000 pounds an hour thanks to updated equipment installed in 2008, and products coming down the line also included Braunschweiger liver sausage, bologna and hard salami.
"It's very weird and sad," said Mc Dougal, a "back end" employee who takes the finished packages off the line and checks to make sure their weight and coding are accurate."I was going to school when I (started) here.
You buy a car, get a paycheck — the next thing you know, you're a lifer," she said.
The Madison factory was one of seven slated to be shuttered when Oscar Mayer's newly merged parent company, Kraft Heinz, announced a major restructuring in November 2015.
Of those, Kraft Heinz plants in Allentown, Pennsylvania; Federalsburg, Maryland; San Leandro, California; and St. The fate of at least two of those factories already is set: The San Leandro and St.