Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., the nation's third-largest cigarette maker, said Tuesday it is offering severance packages to 300 hourly workers as the company responds to reduced cigarette sales.
The Louisville-based maker of Kool, Lucky Strike and Capri cigarettes plans to begin cutting jobs based on seniority if 300 workers do not accept the incentive, which offers salary ranging from six months to two years based on the number of years of service.
Employees can volunteer for the severance deals between Wednesday and Dec. 1. The company announced a similar plan for salaried employees last month. It employs about 2,700 people at the fabrication plant here and 6,000 nationwide.
"We're hopeful that the package we put together would be fair and equitable to everyone whether you've worked here four years or 24 years," company spokesman Jim Teague said Tuesday.
The company makes more than 300 million cigarettes per day at the plant, which produces two dozen brands.
Brown & Williamson has said it has lost more than 3 percent of the tobacco market share since a 1998 settlement with states over health csosts for treating sick smokers.
The company announced the severance offers Monday night at the plant, said Bryan Hite, president of a workers union.
Last month, company officials announced they would offer early retirement to 130 salaried employees in Macon. Another 370 job cuts in Louisville would come from the headquarters and a national marketing staff.