The Wire

The Truth About Koch Industries in North Carolina

The Koch brothers, now infamous with nearly half of Americans for the trail of dark money they use to influence elections, are spending heavily in contested Senate races this year. In North Carolina in particular, the Kochs have targeted Senator Kay Hagan with $7 million in attack ads – more money than they’ve spent on any other race in the country. So what does the Koch agenda look like in the Tar Heel state? As recently as last year, a Koch subsidiary laid off 100 workers from a Wilmington, North Carolina, chemical plant. Other Koch subsidiaries have done the same in North Carolina, including one subsidiary that laid off over 500 workers from two local lumber plants, and one that laid of hundreds of workers from two industrial polyester plants. North Carolina voters should take a hard look at the Koch agenda – and their clear record in the state – before casting their ballots in this critical election.

Koch Industries In North Carolina

November, 2013: Koch Subsidiary Laid Off 100 Workers From A Wilmington Chemical Plant

Koch Industries Subsidiary Laid Off 100 Workers From Its Wilmington Plant At The End Of 2013. According to the Wichita Business Journal, “Invista will lay off 100 workers at a plant in Wilmington, N.C. by the end of January as it shuts down production of dimethyl terephthalate, or DMT, a chemical compound it had been producing there. […] It will continue to produce other chemical compounds at the site and 50 other employers will remain there ‘beyond February 2014,’ Standifer said. Invista is a subsidiary of Koch Industries Inc., both of which are based in Wichita.” [Wichita Business Journal, 11/6/13]

Invista Had Announced In 2012 That It Would Stop Manufacturing A Particular Chemical By The End Of 2013. According to the Wilmington Star News, “Invista, which is owned by Kansas-based Koch Industries, said in September 2012 that it would stop making DMT at Wilmington. At the time, Standifer said the company didn’t know how many people would be affected, but the company said it needed ‘a stable workforce through the end of 2013.’” [Wilmington Star News, 11/6/13]

50 People Would Remain Employed At The Factory After Layoffs. According to the Wilmington Star News, “About 50 employees will remain ‘beyond February 2014’ at the plant on U.S. 421 North as it continues to produce Terate HT polyols, a product used in the manufacture of insulation.” [Wilmington Star News, 11/6/13]

Koch Industries Subsidiary Had Previously Laid Off 60 Employees In March 2012. According to the Wilmington Star News, “In March 2012, Invista said it was cutting 60 employees at the plant, but that 225 people remained employed there.” [Wilmington Star News, 11/6/13]

Koch Subsidiary Laid Off Over 500 Workers From Two North Carolina Lumber Plants

Koch Industries Bought Georgia-Pacific Corp In 2005

Koch Industries Purchased Georgia-Pacific Corp In 2005. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Koch Industries Inc. agreed to purchase building-products and paper maker Georgia-Pacific Corp. for $13.2 billion, bringing the maker of Brawny paper towels and Dixie cups under the roof of what will become the nation’s largest private company by revenue. Under terms of the deal, Koch will make a $48 per share cash tender to Georgia-Pacific shareholders, a price 39% above where Georgia Pacific’s shares closed trading on Friday. Koch, based in Wichita, Kan., will also assume $7.8 billion of Georgia-Pacific debt outstanding. As a company that has fervently maintained its private ownership, Koch has assembled a sprawling industrial conglomerate with interests in everything from oil refining to cattle ranching, asphalt production and carpet. With the addition of Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific, Koch’s annual revenue will total about $80 billion, company officials said.” [Wall Street Journal, 9/14/05]

In 2008, Georgia-Pacific Lumber Plant In Whiteville Went Idle And Laid Off 400 Workers

In 2008, Georgia-Pacific’s Whiteville Lumber And Plywood Plant Laid Off 400 Workers. According to WWAY, “On the local employment front, the Georgia-Pacific Lumber and Plywood Plant in Whiteville has announced it will be laying off 400 employees. The news is not good, and obviously has Whiteville residents concerned. Georgia-Pacific blames the layoffs on the slumping housing market. The company makes plywood and lumber, and said it will shut down the Whiteville facility by Christmas.” [WWAY, 10/3/08]

Georgia-Pacific Held Open The Possibility Of Reopening Whiteville Plant If Economic Conditions Improved. According to WWAY, “Julie Davis, Georgia-Pacific spokesperson said, ‘These are very difficult decisions, ones that the company doesn’t take lightly. We understand the impact that this has on the employees and the community, and we’re doing everything we can to help our employees as we wind down our operations over the next 60 days.’ A small staff of workers will stay on board to maintain the facility. The plant could reopen if the economy turns around, but that is a distant hope for current workers facing a grim Christmas season.” [WWAY, 10/3/08]

As Of April 2014, The Whiteville Plant Was Still Listed As “Idled.” According to a Georgia-Pacific North Carolina State Fact Sheet, “Georgia-Pacific North Carolina; A Look At Our Facilities […] Location: Whiteville- Softwood Plywood (Idled) […] Location: Whiteville- Southern Pine Sawmill (Idled).” [Georgia-Pacific North Carolina State Fact Sheet, Viewed 4/1/14]

In 2010, Georgia-Pacific Lumber Plant In Roxboro Laid Off 118 Workers

In 2010, Roxboro Georgia-Pacific Plant Laid Off 118 Workers. According to Triangle Business Journal, “Georgia-Pacific has notified the North Carolina Department of Commerce that it will permanently lay off 118 employees at its wood products plant in Roxboro, but the company leaves open the option of recalling employees to restart the plant if market conditions improve. Georgia-Pacific’s Roxboro plant manager, Michael Golden, said in a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act letter to Commerce that only a ‘select few’ employees will remain to operate the plant’s I-line. The plant had already begun temporary layoffs in June and July with the anticipation that the reductions would last less than six months, but as market conditions in the engineered lumber market continue to decline, Golden says, the plant needed to lay off more employees.” [Triangle Business Journal, 9/17/10]

Koch Subsidiary Laid Off Hundreds Of Workers From Two Industrial Polyester Plants In North Carolina

Shelby Polyester Plant

Koch Subsidiary Laid Off 330 People From Shelby, North Carolina Polyester Plant In 2001 And 2003

Koch Industries Owned 50% Stake In KoSa Before September 2001, And Subsequently Became Sole Owner Of KoSa. According to the Wichita Business Journal, “Koch International Equity Investments BV and Koch Equities Inc., both subsidiaries of Wichita-based Koch Industries Inc., have acquired the 50 percent ownership interest in KoSa held by IMASAB S.A. de C.V., making them owners of KoSa. KoSa, which is based in Houston, makes commodity and specialty polyester products as part of four global businesses: packaging resins, technical fibers, textile fibers and intermediates and polymer. The sale is subject to regulatory approval. A closing is expected in the next two months.” [Wichita Business Journal, 9/25/01]

KoSa Laid Off 180 Workers From Its Shelby, North Carolina Polyester Plant In March And April 2001. According to the Charlotte Business Journal, “Polyester fiber maker KoSa Ltd. will cut more than 25% of its 700-person work force in Shelby as it refocuses its efforts on more profitable products. KoSa will lay off 180 hourly and salaried employees during the coming two months as it sheds its commodity polyester fiber products and concentrates on specialty lines, says Erica Luongo, a company spokeswoman. KoSa, which in December said it would spent $135 million to modernize the plant, will first seek volunteers for the job cuts. The plant, a part of KoSa’s textile filament division, makes polyester fibers used in seat belts, awnings, lawn chairs and soft-sided trucks. Houston-based KoSa has its regional headquarters in Charlotte. The company’s other Carolinas plants are in Salisbury, Wilmington and Spartanburg, S.C.” [Charlotte Business Journal, 2/27/01]

KoSa Laid Off 150 Workers From Its Shelby Plant In 2003. According to the Charlotte Business Journal, “KoSa will discontinue a polyester thread production line in its Shelby plant and lay off 150 employees by the end of the year. The company, a polyester fiber producer with a regional headquarters in Charlotte, will provide severance packages to laid-off workers. ‘This decision, while extremely difficult, is necessary to ensure the company’s long-term business success,’ says Marc Simpson, KoSa’s Shelby site production manager. ‘We value all employees and the contributions they have made to the Shelby site, but today’s challenging textile industry mandates this move.’ After the layoffs, the plant will employ 180. The Shelby site will continue to produce low denier industrial filament polyester for sewing thread and other industrial applications.” [Charlotte Business Journal, 10/10/03]

Salisbury Polyester Plant

Koch Subsidiary ‘Invista’ Owned Polyester Plant In Salisbury, North Carolina

INVISTA Was An ‘Indirect Wholly Owned Subsidiary’ Of Koch Industries. According to Troubled Company Reporter, “INVISTA is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of privately held, unrated Koch Industries Inc.” [Troubled Company Reporter, 9/5/11]

INVISTA Operated Polyester Fiber Plant In Salisbury, North Carolina. According to the Salisbury Post, “Invista, a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, operates its Salisbury polyester fiber plant off U.S. 70. The plant started as Fiber Industries in 1966 and also went by Hoechst Celanese for many years. Koch Industries has had an ownership interest since December 1998, though the plant has never gone by that name. Trivera and KoSa have been other names in its more recent history. […] In 2001 Koch bought out Saba. In 2003, Koch announced it would buy a DuPont division called Invista and apply that name to the local plant.” [Salisbury Post, 9/16/05]

Koch Industries Possessed Ownership Interest In Salisbury Plant Beginning In 1998. According to the Salisbury Post, “Invista, a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, operates its Salisbury polyester fiber plant off U.S. 70. The plant started as Fiber Industries in 1966 and also went by Hoechst Celanese for many years. Koch Industries has had an ownership interest since December 1998, though the plant has never gone by that name.” [Salisbury Post, 9/16/05]

Koch Industries Acquired Full Ownership Of Salisbury Plant In 2001. According to the Salisbury Post, “In 2001 Koch bought out Saba. In 2003, Koch announced it would buy a DuPont division called Invista and apply that name to the local plant.” [Salisbury Post, 9/16/05]

Koch Industries Acquired Related Division Of DuPont In 2003 And Changed The Name Of The Subsidiary Owner Of Salisbury Plant To Invista. According to the Salisbury Post, “In 2001 Koch bought out Saba. In 2003, Koch announced it would buy a DuPont division called Invista and apply that name to the local plant.” [Salisbury Post, 9/16/05]

Salisbury Plant Made Tire Cord And Technical Filament Out Of Polyester Yarn. According to the Salisbury Post, “In an economy where change is the watchword, one of Rowan County’s success stories is KoSa. […] And the plant also produces two other types of products: * Tire cord, which it sells to almost every major tire manufacturer in the United States. The KoSa plant remains one of the largest producers of tire cord in the country and the world. * Technical filament, or specially engineered fibers, that go into products as varied as fabric roofs and tents, flexible signs and billboards, truck tarpaulins, reinforced belts and hoses and even automobile air bags. In the past two years, the company has invested $80 million in new equipment that now enables it to produce the best polyester yarn in North America and compete with newer plants in Asia, according to Plant Manager Tony Branecky.” [Salisbury Post, 6/25/02]

Threats Of Early Retirement Or Downsizing

In 2003, Koch Industries Threatened 49 Workers At Salisbury Plant With Downsizing Unless They Accepted Early Retirement. According to the Salisbury Post, “In 2003, Koch announced it would buy a DuPont division called Invista and apply that name to the local plant. […] Hughes says the company pushed workers to take early retirement, telling 49 in the maintenance department they could ‘leave gracefully’ or be victims of downsizing.” [Salisbury Post, 9/16/05]

Koch Industries Informed Workers At Salisbury Plant That They Could ‘Leave Gracefully’ Or Risk Being ‘Victims Of Downsizing.’ According to the Salisbury Post, “In 2003, Koch announced it would buy a DuPont division called Invista and apply that name to the local plant. […] Hughes says the company pushed workers to take early retirement, telling 49 in the maintenance department they could ‘leave gracefully’ or be victims of downsizing.” [Salisbury Post, 9/16/05]

Declining Employment Figures At Salisbury Plant Under Koch Industries

2005: 1,200 Employees

In 2005, Total Number Of Employees At Salisbury Plant Was 1,200. According to the Salisbury Post, “Invista produces polyester at the Salisbury plant. It changed its name from KoSa to Invista in May 2004 when DuPont sold a subsidiary, DuPont Textiles Interiors, to Koch Industries Inc. Koch then combined DuPont Textiles with some of its subsidiaries, including KoSa, to create Invista. As of January, Invista in Salisbury was Rowan County’s sixth largest employer with 1,200 employees.” [Salisbury Post, 6/4/05]

2007: 750 Employees

In 2007, Total Number Of Employees At Salisbury Plant Was 750. According to the Salisbury Post, “The top 72 employers in Rowan County have shed 1,045 jobs from last year, according to figures compiled by the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce. […] The other companies in the top 10 remained mostly unchanged from last year: […] Performance Fibers at 660 (which dropped one spot while changing its name from Invista and having 750 total employees last year).” [Salisbury Post, 9/26/08]

2007 Sale And Continued Decline In Employment

Koch Subsidiary Sold The Salisbury Plant To Private Equity Firm In December 2007

Koch Subsidiary Sold Salisbury Plant To Performance Fibers Holdings Inc In December 2007. According to the Salisbury Post, “An affiliate of Performance Fibers Holdings Inc. announced Monday it will buy the North America tire cord and polyester industrial filament businesses of Invista, including manufacturing facilities in Salisbury, Shelby and and Winnsboro, S.C.” [Salisbury Post, 12/4/07]

Performance Fibers Was Owned By Private Equity Firm Sun Capital Partners. According to Performance Fibers, “Sun Capital Partners is a leading private investment firm focused on leveraged buyouts, private equity, debt and other investments in market-leading companies. In December of 2004 an affiliate of Sun Capital acquired Performance Fibers from Honeywell International. Since then, Sun Capital Partners has been working with Performance Fibers to strengthen their business model and improve market position.” [Performance Fibers, Viewed 4/1/14]

Private Equity Firm Laid Off Hundreds More Employees At Salisbury Plant

December 2007: Salisbury Plant Was The Sixth Largest Employer In Rowan County At Time Of Sale, Employing Around 800 Workers. According to the Salisbury Post, “The Invista plant on U.S. 70 between Salisbury and Statesville reportedly employs 800 people and is the sixth largest employer in Rowan County, according to the Salisbury-Rowan Economic Development Commission.” [Salisbury Post, 12/4/07]

2008: Rowan County Chamber Of Commerce Estimated 660 Employees At Salisbury Plant.
According to the Henderson Daily Dispatch, “Performance Fibers didn’t say how many employees worked at the plant but the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce estimated it at 660 a year ago.” [Henderson Daily Dispatch, 1/30/09]

160 Of Those Employees Were Contracted. According to the Salisbury Post, “A 2008 Rowan County Chamber of Commerce survey put the number of employees at Performance Fibers at 660, including 160 contracted employees. It was listed as Rowan County’s seventh largest employer.” [Salisbury Post, 12/2/09]

2008: Salisbury Plant Had Fallen To The Seventh Largest Employer In Rowan County. According to the Salisbury Post, “A 2008 Rowan County Chamber of Commerce survey put the number of employees at Performance Fibers at 660, including 160 contracted employees. It was listed as Rowan County’s seventh largest employer.” [Salisbury Post, 12/2/09]

January 2009: Performance Fibers Laid Off 20% Of Its Workforce At Salisbury Plant. According to the Henderson Daily Dispatch, “An industrial fiber manufacturer says it will lay off 20 percent of its work force at a North Carolina plant. The Salisbury Post reported Thursday that Performance Fibers of Richmond, Va., said the cuts were effective immediately. The firm manufactures polyester fiber used in tires, conveyor belts, fire hoses and safety belts. Company spokesman Jay Pomeroy said the layoffs were tied more to long term profitability and customer service than the current economic recession.” [Henderson Daily Dispatch, 1/30/09]

2012: Performance Fibers Salisbury Plant Was No Longer One Of The Top 10 Employers In Rowan County. According to Rowan Works Economic Development, “Major Employers and Industries 2012 […] Company Name: 1. Food Lion 2. Rowan Salisbury Schools 3. Daimler Trucks 2572 Vehicle Manufacturing 4. W.G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center 5. Rowan Regional Medical Center 6. Rowan Cabarrus Community College 7. Rowan County 8. Magna Composites LLC 9. Piedmont Correctional Institute 10. City of Salisbury.” [Rowan Works Economic Development, Viewed 4/1/14]

October 2013: Salisbury Plant Employed Only 234 People. According to the Salisbury Post, “After laying off 36 people in August, Performance Fibers in Salisbury has eliminated 16 more jobs because of declining demand for the product they make, a company official said. […] The second round of layoffs leaves 234 employees at the plant, which operates around the clock. Pennington said he does not expect any additional job losses. ‘That’s hard to say. Today, I will tell you we don’t anticipate any,’ he said. ‘If business changes dramatically, that could change.’ The company has locations on several continents, but only Salisbury was affected by the layoffs. Performance Fibers bought the plant in 2008. Before that, it was known as Invista. According to Salisbury Post files, 550 people worked at the plant at that time, not including contract employees.” [Salisbury Post, 10/1/13]

36 Employees At Salisbury Plant Were Laid Off In August 2013, And 16 More Employees Were Laid Off In October 2013. According to the Salisbury Post, “After laying off 36 people in August, Performance Fibers in Salisbury has eliminated 16 more jobs because of declining demand for the product they make, a company official said. The plant laid off the 16 additional full-time, hourly workers Sept. 12 and 13, according to Tony Pennington, human resources director for the Americas at Performance Fibers.” [Salisbury Post, 10/2/13]

Koch Industries Owned Share Of A Pipeline That Spilled Oil Into The Deep River In 2000

Koch Industries Owned A Percentage Of The Colonial Pipeline

In 1994, Colonial Pipeline Was Owned By 10 Oil Companies, Including Koch. According to the Houston Chronicle, “Colonial Pipeline Co. is owned jointly by 10 oil companies: Unocal, Amoco, Texaco, Citgo, Mobil, Conoco, Phillips, Koch, Marathon and Arco.” [Houston Chronicle, 10/21/94]

In 2002, Koch Became The Largest Shareholder Of Colonial Pipeline Co. According to Wichita Business Journal, “Koch Business Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of Wichita-based Koch Industries Inc., agreed Friday, Nov. 1 to purchase a 17.97 percent ownership in Colonial Pipeline Co. from BP America. With the acquisition, which is subject to regulatory approval, Koch Business Holdings will own 25.27 percent of Colonial Pipeline’s shares, making it the largest shareholder in the company.” [Wichita Business Journal, 11/2/02]

In 2012, Koch Industries Owned A 20% Interest In The 5,500 Mile Long Colonial Pipeline. According to Forbes, “Koch Industries Estimated 2012 revenue: $115 billion Estimated 2012 earnings before taxes and depreciation: $11 billion […] Pipelines 4,000 miles of pipelines and terminals, plus a 20% interest in the 5,500-mile Colonial Pipeline Co.” [Forbes, 12/24/12]

Colonial Pipeline Ran From Houston Area To New York Harbor And Delivered 95 Million Gallons Of Oil And Gas A Day. According to the Associated Press, “Colonial Pipeline delivers a daily average of 95 million gallons of gasoline, diesel fuel, home heating oil and aviation and military fuels through its 5,519 mile pipeline stretching from the Houston area to the New York harbor.” [Associated Press, 11/2/02]

Colonial Pipeline Ran Under Greensboro

Colonial Pipeline Ran Under Greensboro, North Carolina. According to the Greensboro News & Record, “But the lingering pollution beside this pleasant, suburban street illustrates the downside of Greensboro’s prominent role in the nation’s vital network of fuel pipelines. The city acts as a major juncture for both the multistate Plantation and Colonial pipeline systems, privately owned competitors that run large-scale tank farms near Piedmont Triad International Airport amid intricate networks that serve millions of consumers.” [Greensboro News & Record, 5/5/13]

Colonial Pipeline Was Three To Six Feet Underground For Much Of Guilford County. According to the Greensboro News & Record, “The two pipelines travel side by side, 3 to 6 feet underground through a big chunk of Guilford County, burrowing underneath High Point’s Oak Hollow water-supply lake in two places and bordering very close to Lake Brandt before going their separate ways to Washington, New York City, Roanoke, Va., and many points in between.” [News & Record, 5/5/13]

Oil Spilled Into The East Fork Deep River In 2000, Resulting In A $34 Million Settlement

In 1996 And 2000, Colonial Pipeline Spilled 754 Gallons Of Fuel Into The Deep River And An Unnamed Creek. According to the Greensboro News & Record, “Colonial Pipeline officials acknowledge today that they operated through much of the 1990s without proper respect for the environment. The era culminated in a $34 million court settlement that Colonial paid for violating the Clean Water Act after a series of spills between 1996 and 2000, including two events in Greensboro that spilled a total of 754 gallons of fuel into the east fork of the Deep River and another unnamed creek.” [News & Record, 5/5/13]

In 2000, 17 Barrels Of Kerosene Spilled Into A Pond That Flowed Into The East Fork Deep River In Greensboro. According to the EPA, “Greensboro, East Fork Deep River, North Carolina: At least 714 gallons (17 barrels) of kerosene spilled, some of which entered a pond that flows into a tributary of the East Fork Deep River in Greensboro around May 19, 2000. The kerosene spill caused a sheen about 40 feet by 40 feet in the pond.” [EPA, Viewed 3/31/14]

In 1996, 1.2 Barrels Of Gasoline Spilled Into An Unnamed Creek In Greensboro. According to the EPA, “Greensboro, North Carolina: Approximately 50 gallons (1.2 barrels) of gasoline spilled, some of which entered an unnamed creek and adjoining shoreline in Greensboro, N.C., around May 17, 1996.” [EPA, Viewed 3/31/14]

Colonial Pipeline Put New Measures In Place For Safety After The Incidents In The 1990s. According to the Greensboro News & Record, “The company instituted rules giving all employees the power and responsibility to stop the whole system if they reasonably suspect something’s amiss, Baker said. Company training put added stress on environmental stewardship and safety measures. Colonial’s system wide spending on measures to protect the environment rose to $100 million last year, he said.” [News & Record, 5/5/13]

Colonial Pipeline Paid $34 Million Court Settlement For Spill. According to the Greensboro News & Record, “The era culminated in a $34 million court settlement that Colonial paid for violating the Clean Water Act after a series of spills between 1996 and 2000, including two events in Greensboro that spilled a total of 754 gallons of fuel into the east fork of the Deep River and another unnamed creek.” [News & Record, 5/5/13]