According to Reuters, Tyson Foods will close two chicken plants in the U.S. on 12 May, impacting almost 1,700 employees.

Key Highlights:

  • Tyson Foods will close two chicken plants in May as part of a plan to strengthen its poultry business.
  • The meat giant said its chicken business underperformed expectations in its latest quarter.
  • The closure will impact almost 1,700 employees.

The company will shutter a Glen Allen, Virginia facility, employing 692, and a plant in Van Buren, Arkansas, with 969 employees. The closures show the biggest U.S. meat company by sales is still trying to figure out how to improve its chicken business, which has struggled for years.

On Monday, Mark Federici, president of the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 Union, representing workers at the Glen Allen plant, confirmed the facility’s closing.

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 yet to provide the union with advanced notice to prepare its members for the news.

A letter addressed to Federici from Tyson labour relations official Rick Nimrick, and 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, 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. What a disgraceful waste.”

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