The 200 Beef Processing, Inc. workers in Waterloo who lost their jobs Friday when the plant closed got some good news in the form of a federal grant.
The $21,000 will be used by the state to help the workers find new jobs. Iowa Workforce Development director Teresa Wahlert visited Hawkeye Community College Friday to talk with the former BPI employees and she told them she’s already heard from companies willing to hire them because they have a good reputation.
“We also have these extra funds that we’ll be able to use for training perhaps in some ‘digital literacy’ kinds of things that perhaps you might need to bridge a gap to get you to new employment or some other educational opportunities,” Wahlert said.
BPI permanently closed plants in Waterloo and two others in Texas and Kansas after being in the center of a controversy over a product critics have called “pink slime.” Company officials say the closures were necessary because it was more difficult than anticipated to restore public confidence in the product known in the industry as “lean, finely textured beef.” Governor Branstad met with the laid-off BPI workers Friday.
“What has happened to BPI and the jobs lost here in Waterloo underscores why every one of us must use honest and accurate descriptions,” Branstad said, “and we just work vigorously to combat lies, smears and misinformation that’s put out about products as well as people.”
Federal officials say “lean, finely textured beef” is safe and has been for decades.