Hundreds will lose their jobs in Chautauqua County after a St. Louis-based company announced layoffs Thursday. YNN's Katie Cummings has more on the announcement and how it could affect the area.
CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY, N.Y. — Between 100 to 118 hourly and salaried employees between the Dunkirk and Fredonia Carriage House facilities will be out of a job by April 5th.
The parent company Ralcorp announced Thursday that the closure is part of a strategy to maximize capacity and capabilities at other facilities nationwide.
The Dunkirk plant makes syrups, pourables, and spoonable dressings.
"They told us around September they were going to stop the pourables. They were getting out of the business so that kind of gave us an indication maybe something was going on here," said Tom Dickerson, Carriage House SEIU-NCFO Representative.
The Petri Baking Product plant in Silver Creek, also owned by Ralcorp, faces about 275 layoffs.
Dickerson says employees there may have opportunities to transfer like some will at Dunkirk.
However, the layoffs are discouraging in an area that’s seen a downturn in employment.
"These aren’t jobs we can easily absorb into other facilities. In these tough economic times, there aren't just other industries that can take on these employees," said Dunkirk Mayor Anthony Dolce.
ConAgra Foods Inc. purchased Ralcorp in November for nearly $5 billion and Dickerson thinks the move could be beneficial for employees.
“Empire State Development Agency, they've been great with us. I mean, they told us there's money to keep the jobs here, create new jobs, there's money here. If ConAgra would like to take advantage of what New York state is willing to offer," said Dickerson.
The union says it won't be able to talk with ConAgra until the sale is final, which is expected to happen in the next few months.
Dickerson says the next step in the process is assisting workers with severance packages and workforce training.