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Latest News - December 2011

December 15, 2011
Patterson Vegetable hands out layoff notices with paychecks
Source: Patterson Irrigator
By: Nick Rappley

Patterson Vegetable Co. handed out 60-day layoff notices with employee paychecks Friday, Dec. 16, though company officials say they may still be able to salvage the plant by slashing payroll to cover renovation costs at the Patterson plant.

"Patterson Vegetable Co. will be closing its entire operations by Feb. 20," an employee quoted the letter as saying Friday morning.

Eric Schwartz, CEO of Patterson Vegetable Co., said the notices were mandated by federal law to announce when layoffs were imminent.

"We're still in discussions with the Teamsters local (948)," Schwartz said Friday morning. "We're still hoping to find a way to resolve this but we're also out of time."

Citing the age and design of the building, Schwartz said the company needed to do renovations and upgrades to the facility, and the only way to pay for it was through employee concessions.

"It's nothing anybody here did wrong," he said of the reasons for the potential layoffs. "They've been a great work force. It is a tough decision to make at a tough time."

Patterson Vegetable Co. has about 600 employees and is the second largest employer in the Patterson area, according to figures released earlier this year from the Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance.

The company, headed up by Fresno-based Woolf Farming Co., bought the aging frozen vegetable processing plant on First Street and West Las Palmas Avenue from Patterson Frozen Foods in June 2007, rehiring the vast majority of PFF's former employees.

Modesto-based Teamsters Local 948 sent a letter to union members Tuesday, Dec. 13, notifying employees about an upcoming informational meeting on Monday, Dec. 19, where they will have the opportunity to vote on concessions.

The company is seeking pay cuts of $2 per hour from employees to help pay for needed repairs and improvements and to cover operating losses, workers say.

If union members do not agree to those concessions, company officials have said they will shut down the 65-year-old plant.

“This may be the most important meeting of your Union affecting Patterson,” stated the letter from the Teamsters to PVC employees. “The future of your job at Patterson is at stake.”

Company officials have provided financial information showing that it is losing money, according to the letter. An employee has said the company has lost more than $10 million during the past three years.

Union officials could not be reached for comment on Thursday or Friday.



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