Tyson Foods in Council Bluffs, Iowa announced Friday that 480 people will be laid off on the second shift of production. Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan says this is a big loss. “It has a huge impact on the metropolitan area. The breakdown of their employee base is there are a number of people that live both in Iowa and Nebraska and I think in this case there may be more Nebraskans at this facility than Iowans and so when you are shifting 480-plus jobs away from the second shift, it is going to effect the entire metro area,” Hanafan says.
Hanafan is grateful the Tyson plant is remaining open as this announcement comes on the heels of a big meatpacker closing completely in Sioux City this week. “If you look at Sioux City, one of the things that Morrell said was that this was an old plant. It was built in the late 50’s. It hasn’t been retooled in years. The good news about the Tyson facility here is that it is a case-ready meat plant. They just invested millions of dollars into a sewer treatment facility there. They have upgraded the equipment. They have spent a lot of money on equipment and training. So, there are two different things,” Hanafan says.
Mayor Hanafan says it is very difficult to see ag-based production and manufacturing facilities reduce size here in the Midwest as we are the heart of agriculture country. “We have been pretty sheltered in this area not to see the layoffs that were done on the East Coast and West Coast in our Midwest area in Iowa and Nebraska, beef production, pig production is a big issue to us in agriculture base and when we see it start to erode, that starts to concern me because we’re the ag center,” Hanafan says, “I just hope, I think it will turn around. This is an adjustment in the economy. We are more at the tail end of it and so hopefully we can turn this around and those people can go back to work.”
Tyson is closing its second shift operations and other facilities will pick up the slack. This facility wraps meat to get it ready for the grocery store meat case. There are two other Tyson facilities in the metro-area and they will not be impacted by the change.
By Karla James