Hundreds of Kraft Heinz jobs in Steuben County in jeopardy

Feb 23, 2017
Originally published on February 24, 2017 2:28 pm

Officials in Steuben County are bracing for the possibility that hundreds of jobs may be leaving.

Kraft Heinz has sent out a notice to 330 employees of the plant in Campbell that they could be laid off.  The notice is required by the NYS Labor Department, and comes after the company announced in the fall of 2015 that it would close seven manufacturing facilities within 18 to 24 months.

Since that announcement, Kraft Heinz worked with prospective buyers along with government officials to find a viable solution for the Steuben County cheese factory, and spokesman Michael Mullen says they placed a high priority on finding someone who could keep the jobs in Campbell.

But he says with no agreement reached so far, Kraft Heinz had to send out the notice about the possible layoffs.  If no agreement can be reached before May 26th, Kraft Heinz will offer severance benefits and other support to workers, and the layoffs would continue through the end of July.

The executive director of the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency James Johnson says local  state and federal officials are still working to find a way to keep that plant going.

"We continue to be engaged with our state officials at Empire State Development and our federal elected officials as well as community representatives to work toward a positive outcome where we can re-purpose the facility and identify a partner who can continue operating it," Johnson told WXXI News.  He said he remains hopeful there will be a "positive outcome."

A spokesman for Empire State Development, Jason Conwall, released a statement saying that ESD, along along with Senator Schumer, remain in discussions with Kraft-Heinz and potential suitors for the Campbell facility.

Conwall says those talks continue, as they have for the last 15 months, “and we will continue to make every reasonable effort to facilitate a change in ownership that creates long-term stability for the local workforce and economy.” 

Kraft Heinz also operates a plant in Avon, and that plant has stayed open with the help of an investment from the state and the company.