ConAgra workers to lose jobs

November 17, 2009 6:38:41 AM PST
An explosion at the Slim Jim plant in Garner claimed lives. Now, it is claiming jobs. Workers at the ConAgra Foods plant in Garner will be entering the gates a little less starting this week. Many had their shifts reduced - and they are the lucky ones.

Others got laid off.

"Anytime you have layoffs, it affects the community," said Ronnie Williams, the Mayor of Garner. "Especially 300 - it's going to have an impact on the economy."

Company officials say they have no other choice but to cut jobs. An explosion in June took out more than just part of the building. ConAgra officials say the blast, which killed three people and left dozens of others injured, cut the plant's production capacity in half.

Employees tell ABC 11 Eyewitness News the company does not want them talking to the media. But a long-time worker admitted the layoffs couldn't come at a worse time.

"We are embarking on the holiday season with Thanksgiving and Christmas. The timing is terrible," Mayor Williams said.

Williams adds the town council will be meeting with ConAgra officials at this Tuesday's meeting to get an update on the progress and what is next for the company. He's hoping for good news, but that is not likely.

"Even with the exclusiveness that Slim Jim has had on the Garner location, I understand they may outsource some of that to another facility," Williams said.

Right now - a blue tarp covers part of the damaged building and repair work is underway. For workers in Garner, it's a constant reminder of a fatal tragedy.

First they lost their friends. Now, their jobs.

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