Tyson Foods to close Chicago plant, lay off 480 workers

CHICAGO — Tyson Foods announced that it will close one of its Chicago plants next year as it consolidates production at other facilities.

The shutdown of the facility, which will occur before Oct. 1, 2016, will mean the loss of 480 jobs.

The company also plans to close a pepperoni plant in Jefferson, Wis. The age of both facilities and the anticipated cost to renovate them was a factor in the decision, as was the distance of the Chicago plant from supplier facilities.

The Chicago plant makes prepared meals for the hospitality industry, among other clients, said Worth Sparkman, Tyson Foods spokesman. Items like tempura chicken, meatballs, crepes, omelets, soups, sauces and chicken cordon bleu are made there.

Sparkman said the facility is limited in its ability to meet changing demands but declined to provide additional details. “We may have a different type of product that can’t be produced there, but can be produced elsewhere,” said Sparkman, who declined to say what locations would absorb Chicago’s work.

The 480 jobs to be cut at the Chicago plant are mostly hourly, production-line jobs, Sparkman said. Tyson Foods bought the plant in 1994.

Tyson’s two other Chicago facilities, a plant that makes steaks and office buildings, will continue to operate, Sparkman said.

Closing the Jefferson, Wis., plant will mean the loss of an additional 400 jobs.

“We examined many options before we turned down this road,” Donnie King, president of North American operations for Tyson, said in a statement. “This affects the lives of our team members and their families, making it a very difficult decision. But after long and careful consideration, we’ve determined we can better serve our customers by shifting production and equipment to more modern and efficient locations.”

(c)2015 Chicago Tribune

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