Cheese Plant Lays Off 80% of Workers

Foremost Farms USA, a dairy cooperative in Baraboo, Wisconsin, said this week in a state filing that its planned layoff at a cheese plant in Buffalo County will last more than four months.

The company announced December 14 that it is temporarily ceasing cheese production at a plant in the town of Waumandee, Wisconsin because of “shifting cheese production and market trends.”

The layoffs are expected to occur around February 16, affecting 39 of the plant’s 49 employees.

“The Waumandee employees have shown they can consistently produce quality American-style cheese for more than two decades. Even though it’s no longer feasible to make this type of product here, there are other options for this plant and we look forward to the day when we can announce a new role for this plant within the Foremost Farms production network,” company president Dave Fuhrmann said in a release.

The farm cooperative operates 20 dairy plants and one milk transfer station for dairy farmer-members in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. Products are marketed under the GG Golden Guernsey Dairy and Morning Glory brands.

Placing These Workers in New Opportunities

“We have what we call a dislocated worker unit. Their job is to work with the employees to get them to work as quickly as possible,” says Rose Lynch, director of communications at the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

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In addition, Lynch’s office works in collaboration with Workforce Connections, Inc., a local non-profit that helps laid-off workers and runs job centers.

In a matter of weeks, a representative will visit Foremost Farms to meet with the affected employees. After the meetings, recruiters and staffing agencies can contact Workforce Connections to obtain detailed profiles on the dislocated workers’ skills, goals, and education.

“We have a staff person assigned to these workers; our protocol is we go in and meet with the managers or union leader; then we arrange for an all-employee meeting. Then we survey employees to get a profile of transferable skills,” says Jerry Hanoski, executive director of Workforce Connections.

“Typically, we say, ‘If you let us meet with your employees, we can talk about unemployment compensation, COBRA, and training opportunities.’ In close to 90% of the cases, the companies are very receptive to this on company time,” he says.

“It’s in the employees’ best interests to fill out the survey, as many times we have temp agencies contacting our office about dislocated workers,” he says.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.

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