Blue Bell to lay off workers, suspend operations - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Blue Bell to lay off workers, suspend operations

Blue Bell is suspending operations at multiple plants across the U.(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) Blue Bell is suspending operations at multiple plants across the U.(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

(RNN) – As a result of the listeria outbreak, Blue Bell Creameries announced Friday they will downsize more than a third of its workforce and make other cost-cutting measures.

The company said it will lay off 750 full-time and 700 part-time employees, about 37 percent of the 3,900 person workforce. It will also furlough an additional 1,400 employees.

Ten people across four states were sickened and hospitalized from the bacteria. Three died in Kansas.

Paul Kruse, CEO and president of Blue Bell, released a statement and a video online.

"The agonizing decision to lay off hundreds of our great workers and reduce hours and pay for others was the most difficult one I have had to make in my time as Blue Bell's CEO and president," Kruse said. "At Blue Bell, our employees are part of our family, and we did everything we could to keep people on our payroll for as long as possible. At the same time, we have an obligation to do what is necessary to bring Blue Bell back and ensure its viability in the future. This is a sad day for all of us at Blue Bell, and for me personally."

According to Kruse, the process of cleaning the four production plants where the outbreak occurred will take longer than originally planned.

Layoff and a suspension of operations will occur at the following distribution centers: two branches in Phoenix, Tucson, AZ; Denver; Indianapolis; Kansas City and Wichita, KS; Louisville, KY; Albuquerque, NM; Las Vegas; Raleigh and Charlotte, NC; Columbia, SC; and Richmond, VA.

Blue Bell spokeswoman Jenny Van Dorf said all the employees at the Kansas City facility have been let go, and she does not anticipate the jobs coming back. She said the company plans to reintroduce its products with limited distribution and limited production.

Kruse said in the video that they do not have a timeline on when the company will be financially viable again.

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