Plant Closure Shocks Missouri Town

US - Officials in Buffalo are reported to be devastated by the announced closure of one of the town's largest employers as Tyson fails to renew its contract with Petit Jean.
calendar icon 4 August 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

The Petit Jean Poultry plant in Buffalo will close by 4 October, eliminating about 465 jobs in Buffalo (population about 3,000), reports News-Leader of Springfield, Missouri.

Ward One Alderman Gary Slack said he learned the news on 1 August after the plant manager spoke with the mayor.

"We're just devastated by this," he said. "That's our largest employer besides the schools."

Workers at the plant were sent a letter about the impending closing on 31 July. The letter says "It is currently anticipated that all employees who are now employed by Petit Jean Poultry Inc., at Buffalo, Missouri will be terminated during the above referenced period of time. There are no bumping rights."

Bumping rights refers to the rights of those with seniority to take jobs of others in a company who have less seniority.

"It's definitely going to hurt us," Mayor Jerry Hardesty said. "That's 465 workers who will be out of jobs."

The company did a lot for the city in terms of fund-raising for community groups, Mayor Hardesty added.

The plant was also closed in 2000, putting 250 people out of work.

"It was rough when we lost them the last time," Mr Slack said. "But then gas was down, people could afford to drive to Springfield (for work), though it was hard on them.

"Most found other jobs and did not come back but a lot did. Now, they are hit twice."

The plant was re-opened about two years later. "They've really worked on the plant to make it top-of-the-line," Mr Slack said.

Mayor Hardesty told the newspaper that said plant manager Frank Sanderson told him the reason for closure was that the Tyson chicken company did not renew a contract with Petit Jean.

The mayor added that from his conversations with Mr Sanderson he believes that if the plant were to be sold, it would still have to be used for poultry processing because it is not easily adaptable for another purpose.

"When it closed before, they tried to sell, but they didn't have any buyers," Mayor Hardesty said.

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