SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Tyson Foods has announced plans to close two of its plants, which together employ a total of nearly 1,700 people.
The company said its plants in Van Buren, Arkansas, and Glen Allen, Virginia, will be closing in May.
“After careful consideration, we’ve made the difficult decision to close our Van Buren, Arkansas plant effective May 12, 2023, and shift demand to other Tyson Foods facilities,” said Tyson in its announcement concerning the Arkansas plant. “While the decision was not easy, it reflects our broader strategy to strengthen our poultry business by optimizing operations and utilizing the full available capacity at each plant.”
A statement issued on the closing of the Virginia plant suggested its closure was due to “inability to economically improve operations.”
Tyson said there are plans to work with employees affected by the closures to help them relocate to other Tyson facilities. The company also said it would coordinate with state and local agencies to provide resources and assistance to its employees that do not relocate.
Impacted Tyson team members responded to the news on Tuesday. The two who spoke with Nexstar’s KNWA were shocked to hear the news. Now, they’re trying to figure out what’s next.
Evelee Hamilton has worked at the Van Buren plant for two years. She said a lot of people have accumulated vacation time, and have put a lot of time into their job at the factory. Now, these people are having to start over.
Hamilton is going to try to apply to jobs in the area, but said leaving Van Buren isn’t an option. This is where she’s grown up and spent her entire life.
“What do you do? What do you do when you find out your financial stability is cut?” Hamilton said.
Adam Boehler, another team member at the Tyson plant in Van Buren, said his family lives in the area and he isn’t going to leave. But he knows that finding a job when hundreds of people are having to do the same thing will be a challenge.
“It happens. It’s part of life. Do I wish something could be done about it? Yes,” Boehler said.
The president of a union representing workers in Glen Allen, meanwhile, criticized Tyson for providing no warning to the group.
“It has been our honor and privilege to represent the workers at this plant for decades, and we were appalled by today’s news and the terrible impact it will have on close to 700 of our union members,” said Mark Federici, President of UFCW 400, in a statement obtained by Nexstar’s WRIC.
Federici also called out Tyson for closing Virginia’s Glen Allen plant while investing hundreds of millions in a new plant halfway across the state in Pittsylvania County, the station reported.
The Van Buren Chamber of Commerce said over 900 employees in the area would be affected by the closure; local outlet KLRT reported that the Arkansas plant employed 969, specifically. The Glen Allen plant, meanwhile, employed 692, WRIC reported.
WRIC’s Jakob Cordes contributed to this report.