West Liberty Foods to Eliminate 260 Jobs at West Liberty Plant

Feb. 20, 2024
Company will shift RTE slicing and second-shift log fabrication to its Bolingbrook, Ill., plant over the next year.

Meat processor West Liberty Foods (WLF) will shut down its ready-to-eat slicing and second-shift log fabrication operations at its West Liberty, Iowa, plant during the coming year, resulting in the elimination of 260 production jobs through attrition and layoffs — roughly a quarter of the 865 employees working at the eastern Iowa facility.

Dan Waters, chief legal officer for WLF, sent a statement from the company saying that employees were notified of the job cuts on Feb. 13, but that no production workers had been laid off at the time of the announcement. The company expects to begin making changes April 29, with layoffs occurring in stages in April, May, June and November.

Slicing operations will not cease for the company; WLF will move the operations to its Bolingbrook, Ill., plant, based on rapid demand growth for the RTE sandwiches produced at the suburban Chicago facility the company acquired a decade ago.

The company made clear in its statement that turkey harvesting and first-shift log fabrication operations at the West Liberty plant would not be impacted, and the company will remain headquartered there. WLF is working to identify reassignment opportunities within the company and will provide on-site re-employment and support services.

It has been a challenging couple of years since the Covid-19 pandemic ended for WLF, which announced in October 2022 that it would close its Mount Pleasant, Iowa, facility in 2023, due to a reduction in demand for pre-sliced deli meats. Had the plant shut down in May of 2023 as originally planned, it would have resulted in roughly 350 employees losing their jobs, but WLF was able to find a buyer for the facility in Mexican food processor Sigma Alimentos, which was looking to increase production capacity for its lunchmeat brands.

More recently, WLF laid off approximately 55 workers across its West Liberty, Bolingbrook and Tremonton, Utah, plants in November 2023, according to news reports.

About the Author

Andy Hanacek | Senior Editor

Andy Hanacek has covered meat, poultry, bakery and snack foods as a B2B editor for nearly 20 years, and has toured hundreds of processing plants and food companies, sharing stories of innovation and technological advancement throughout the food supply chain. In 2018, he won a Folio:Eddie Award for his unique "From the Editor's Desk" video blogs, and he has brought home additional awards from Folio and ASBPE over the years. In addition, Hanacek led the Meat Industry Hall of Fame for several years and was vice president of communications for We R Food Safety, a food safety software and consulting company.

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