Tyson Foods to shut Buffalo plant, 300 jobs lost

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Tyson Foods announced Friday that it will shut down its plant in Buffalo during the first half of 2015.

The company says it is shutting down the plant on Perry Street as well as plants in Iowa and New Mexico to improve the performance of its prepared foods business.

Around 300 people will lose their jobs in Buffalo, while another 650 at the other two plants will be out of work.

“Our Buffalo plant has been struggling financially,” said Tyson Foods spokesman Gary Mickelson.

He says it no longer makes good business sense to keep the plant open on Perry Street. It produces hot dogs, sausage and hams, but most of the materials have to be shipped from Iowa and that plant will be closing in September.

“This is a very difficult decision, especially since it affects the lives of people who work for us, work with us, and because it affects their families,” said Mickelson.

The Perry Street plant has been putting out packaged food since 1969, first as Russer Foods and for the last 15 years under Tyson.

Dave Wilke lives right down the street and used to work there in the eighties when it was Russer.

“I don’t see good in anybody losing their jobs. It doesn’t matter where you live or where you’re coming from or anything like that, I mean you need work, you need work.”

Mickelson says affected workers will be able to apply for available jobs at other Tyson locations.

“We’ll invite them to a job fair we expect to host and we also plan to work with state officials to help them learn about other available benefits and job opportunities.”

Tyson says the Iowa plant was too costly to renovate, and the plants in Buffalo and New Mexico are too far from the raw material base in the Midwest. The company plans to shift production and equipment to more cost-efficient locations.

The three plants have been part of Tyson since 2001, when it acquired IBP Inc. Tyson, based in Springdale, Arkansas, has some 115,000 employees in 130 countries.

The announcement that these three plants will be closing comes after Tyson signed a $7.75 billion deal earlier this month to buy Hillshire Brands Co., the maker of Jimmy Dean sausages and Ball Park hot dogs.

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