NEW YORK — Textile giant Milliken & Co. this week began shutting down two of its South Carolina mills, a process that will cut 260 jobs and take until sometime next year, the company said.

The Spartanburg, S.C.-based company said it plans to close a yarn-texturizing plant in Saluda that employs 140 and a weaving facility in Union with 120 workers. Both plants are about 40 years old.

In a pair of statements, the company blamed the continuing growth of imports from China and other countries with low wages and burgeoning textile industries for the shutdowns.

“Despite continued investment in the most modern, state-of-the-art manufacturing and plant equipment, the free-trade policies of our elected representatives in Congress have allowed the loss of…manufacturing jobs in the U.S., while creating jobs in Communist China,” the company said in a statement. “Our competitors there pay only 40 cents an hour and can employ 20 people for less cost than we pay for one associate here in the U.S.”

Headed by chairman Roger Milliken, the company has been one of the driving forces in the textile industry’s current effort to get the U.S. government to invoke safeguards cracking down on Chinese imports, through the American Manufacturers Trade Action Coalition.

Milliken currently employs 10,000 people in the U.S. where it operates 47 plants.

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