Jun 4 2014, 3:27pm CDT | by Jason Brumett
Greek yogurt maker Chobani is laying off workers at its south-central Idaho plant.
Chief Financial Officer Peter McGuinness tells The Times-News the lay-offs include temporary workers as well as some regular workers.
“It’s a tough day and a half,” a company spokesman said Tuesday. “We take this very seriously.
“There is no larger story,” he said, staving off rumors to the contrary. “Chobani is far from being in trouble. ... When we first came to Twin Falls, we hired temporary employees as we ramped up the plant. It’s normal to hire temporary employees for temporary work.”
More than three-quarters of those laid off are temporary workers, the spokesman said. He declined to say how many people lost their jobs.
He declined to say how many workers are being let go, but he says about three-quarters are temporary workers.
McGuinness says the plant has hit its production target and is making shift changes Tuesday and Wednesday. He says that instead of two 12-hour shifts seven days a week, production workers will operate three eight-hour shifts five days a week.
McGuinness says the company's finances are strong.
Barrett Business Services Inc. and Elwood Staffing, both of Twin Falls, provide temporary workers for Chobani.
“...After a thorough and comprehensive review of our business, we made the very difficult but necessary decision to operate our plant at its original design and eliminate certain positions...” a Chobani statement said.
The plant is not reducing production, the spokesman said.
An unnamed Chobani spokesman downplayed the layoffs in a statement to magicvalley.com, saying the total employment is still more than 400.
"There is no larger story," the spokesman said. "Chobani is far from being in trouble. ... When we first came to Twin Falls, we hired temporary employees as we ramped up the plant. It's normal to hire temporary employees for temporary work."
Late last month, Chobani reversed course and closed its sales office in Charlotte, N.C., moving about 20 employees to New York City, according to a report in the Charlotte Observer.
Chobani had announced two years earlier it would make Charlotte its North American sales headquarters.
Spokesman Peter Duda told the Observer "the move is intended to consolidate the company's sales and marketing workers and will bring the sales staff closer to Chobani's upstate New York manufacturing facilities."
Jan Roeser, regional economist with the state Department of Labor, estimates that Chobani employs 500 to 1,000 workers.
Layoffs aren’t unusual in food processing, Roeser said.
“It’s still not good news for those on the receiving end,” she said. “But there are a lot more opportunities here now than when Chobani first opened.”
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