HomeJobsWest Liberty Foods cutting 260 jobs at Iowa turkey facility

West Liberty Foods cutting 260 jobs at Iowa turkey facility

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West Liberty Foods, an east-central Iowa turkey processing plant, says it will lay off about 260 employees beginning in April as it moves some processing to a sister facility in a Chicago suburb.

The farmer-owned cooperative will wind down its ready-to-eat turkey slicing operations, moving them to its facility in Bolingbrook, Illinois, a city of about 74,000 people outside of Chicago. It also will fold a second fabrication shift in West Liberty.

Rapid growth in demand for West Liberty’s ready-to-eat sandwiches, produced at the Illinois plant, is driving the move, West Liberty Foods said Monday in an email.

Last week, Tyson Foods said it would close its Perry pork processing plant, laying off nearly 1,300 workers in June as it seeks efficiencies in its operations.

More: As Tyson Foods closes Perry plant, are other Iowa facilities headed to the chopping block?

The West Liberty layoffs are slated to begin April 29. Additional cuts are expected in May, June and November, the company said. But it said its turkey harvesting and first-shift fabrication operations won’t be affected, and that it will keep its headquarters in West Liberty.

Turkey growers formed the company in 1996 after Oscar Mayer said it would close the plant. The company now employs 865 workers there.

“As a resident of this community, the decision to reduce production capacity in West Liberty was difficult and painful,” West Liberty CEO Brandon Achen said in a statement. “We value the contributions of all our team members and deeply regret the need for layoffs.

More: Tyson plant closing announcement takes Perry by surprise, but city leaders vow to rebound

“We are committed to connecting each affected person with new employment opportunities and support,” Achen said.

Company also suspending retirement fund match

In addition to the layoffs, the company said it’s suspending its matching contributions to team members’ 401(k) retirement plans as a “temporary measure to conserve cash.”

West Liberty said it’s working to “identify reassignment opportunities within our company” and “providing onsite reemployment and support services.”

In Perry, Tyson has said it’s encouraging workers to take new jobs at company’s other operations. A job fair is scheduled on April 3.

Donnelle Eller covers agriculture, the environment and energy for the Register. Reach her at deller@registermedia.com or 515-284-8457. 

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