The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

October 6, 2009

Pilgrim’s Pride will close plant doors on Friday

The final day of processing live chickens was Tuesday for the soon-to-be closed Pilgrim’s Pride plant.

As a part of restructuring to come out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Pilgrim’s Pride consolidated the processing functions of the Athens plant with those in Boaz, Guntersville and Franklin County.

The closing of the Athens plant left 640 workers unemployed. Ray Atkinson, Pilgrim’s Pride director of corporate communications, said “a few” employees had been transferred to other plants.

“Not a large number,” said Atkinson. But the reported number of those transferred has been 12.

When asked it the company has any plans to sell the plant, Atkinson said, “No plans that we can tell about right now.

“The facilities are idled and will stay that way unless we need additional production capacity,” he said.

While Tuesday was the last day for processing live chickens, Atkinson said about 40 people would remain on-site through Friday.

“We will have a few people finishing up the product run,” he said.

Atkinson said the plant closing would not affect local contract growers.

“The company does not expect a reduction in contract growers,” he said. “They will be supplying other complexes.”

The plant has been in production for 57 years. Among owners were Sweet Sue, Beatrice Foods and ConAgra. Pilgrim’s Pride took over in 2003.

Pilgrim’s Pride has also idled plants in Athens, Ga.; El Dorado, Ark., and Farmersville, La., in the wake of which more than 4,000 workers lost their jobs.

The corporation continues to employ nearly 41,000 people in 14 states, Puerto Rico and Mexico.

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