Tyson Foods will close two chicken plants in the US on 12 May, impacting almost 1,700 employees, according to Reuters.
The company will shutter a facility in Glen Allen, Virginia, employing 692 and a plant in Van Buren, Arkansas, with 969 employees.
On Monday, Mark Federici, president of the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 Union, which represents workers at the Glen Allen plant, confirmed the facility’s closure.
He wrote: “These men and women risked their lives and the safety of their families to keep this plant operational during the pandemic, and this is the thanks they get? This is not how we show gratitude to essential workers in Virginia. Rest assured, our union will do everything in our power to help our members and their families through this difficult time.”
Federici stated that the company had not provided the union with advanced notice with which to prepare its members for the news.
A letter addressed to Federici from Tyson labour relations official Rick Nimrick, published by Richmond Times-Despatch, said the company “must eliminate” all jobs at its Glen Allen processing complex “as part of…[its] business strategy to operate more efficiently”.
Nimrick wrote: “As production is expected to cease at that time [12 May 2023], the employment of approximately 692 affected team members at the Glen Allen complex will be permanently terminated approximately 60 days from the date of this notice”.
Meanwhile, the closure of the Van Buren facility was confirmed by city Mayor Joe Hurst and Julie Murray of the local chamber of commerce, who said that while they are sad to see Tyson exit, they “understand…[the company] must do what is best for…[its] business”.
They continued: “In the meantime, we will focus on serving the Tyson team members, who are our friends and neighbours. We are pulling together all community partners to identify the considerable resources our area can offer to enable a smooth career transition.”
As part of his scathing rebuke regarding the Virginia site closure, Federici claimed that: “Tyson Foods has received untold sums of taxpayer dollars to open a new facility in Pittsylvania County after promising to provide 400 jobs”.
He continued: “But with at least 700 jobs eliminated by the closure of the Glen Allen plant, Tyson Foods will continue to reap the lavish benefits of taxpayer dollars while Virginia will have 300 fewer jobs”.
Tyson Foods was contacted by FoodBev Media for comment.
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