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Mayor Johnson expresses frustration as Master Lock announces plans to close Milwaukee plant

 Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson
Susan Bence
Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson at a press conference on Thursday, May 25, 2023.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said he hopes to speak with officials at the parent company of Master Lock, after learning Thursday that the lock maker will close its north-side factory next year — and cut about 400 jobs.

It's the same plant that then-President Barack Obama visited about a decade ago, highlighting that Master Lock had brought back some jobs from overseas.

Johnson said the announcement of the plant-closing is personally irritating because one of his homes growing up was near Master Lock.

"I lived on 34th and Clarke, not terribly far away. My aunt worked at that plant. She showed President Obama around the plant when he was visiting back in 2012. Right? We were celebrating what Master Lock was doing, bringing jobs to neighborhoods like that, in the United States, neighborhoods that need those jobs. Now, they're sucking those family-supporting jobs away," Johnson told news reporters Thursday.

Master Lock is part of Fortune Brands, which is based in suburban Chicago. The company says it announced the 2024 closing now to give as much advance notice as possible to affected employees.

Master Lock says it's moving the work elsewhere in North America.

WUWM's Susan Bence contributed audio to this story.

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