FREDONIA – Mayor Steve Keefe said the plan for closing the Carriage House food processing facilities remains unclear. He said while he knows there has been some interest in buying the facilities, which employ over 400 people, no decisions have been made.
Employees are scheduled to start getting layoff notices right after Labor Day, Keefe confirmed Monday at a regular meeting of the Fredonia Village Board.
“We were told the peanut butter line would be shut down first, but as recently as last week they were still operating,” said Keefe.
Keefe said he was pleased that federal funds would be coming to help retrain the employees who lose their jobs at the facilities.
U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning announced assistance for ConAgra employees in Dunkirk and Fredonia on Monday. He said help will come in the form of job training, additional unemployment insurance for individuals enrolled in training, job search allowance, reemployment services and more. The assistance will help the nearly 100 employees in Dunkirk and more than 320 in Fredonia impacted by the facilities’ closure, after the two facilities are totally closed down.
“Taking care of employees and making sure they have the help they need has been our primary concern from the beginning and today’s announcement means much-needed help is on the way,” Reed said. “With this help, families will have more opportunities to find solid employment with effective tools like job training.”
Keefe said similar services will be offered by state agencies as well. “It is my understanding that the local Jamestown Community College Campus will be offering courses for re-training,” he said.
The Department of Labor issued approval for Trade Adjustment Assistance and Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance for ConAgra employees Monday. Reed spoke with union leadership Monday to deliver the news and offer his continued help in getting employees the help they need.
“The work is not done and the entire community continues to work together for the best possible outcome for employees and their families,” Reed continued. “Between the fair severance package we worked to secure and today’s assistance, employees are in a better position to get the training and assistance they need to get a job. Our office will continue to be a resource for employees throughout this entire process.”
Reed remains in contact with local officials, labor representatives and the Department of Labor to find a buyer to fill the facility.
Keefe confirmed that there has been progress in getting businesses interested in the site.
But, he said, “we are ultimately at the mercy of ConAgra,” said Keefe. “So the long term plans are as clear and as thick as peanut butter,” he said.