Growers will deliver to new plant
by Kurtis Workman
Press Staff Writer
The closing date for the Simplot potato processing facility in Aberdeen is less than a month away and the future of the processing plant is still uncertain.
For the 309 employees at the Aberdeen plant and area officials, questions about what the vacated plant will be used for remain unanswered.
Simplot spokesman David Cuoio, said there are still no plans for the future of the plant.
“I am not aware of any plans for the structures on the Aberdeen plant site,” said Cuoio.
As for the future of the 278 hourly and 31 salaried employees in Aberdeen, Cuoio said a small number have found other positions at other Simplot locations.
“About 10 percent of the Aberdeen plant workforce has been or will be placed at other Simplot facilities,” Cuoio said.
Simplot has been actively assisting Aberdeen employees to prepare for the transition by offering training opportunities and retirement information.
“The number of retirees is unknown, but is expected to be small. The company has hosted retirement seminars and provided educational opportunities that have been well attended by Aberdeen employees. The Simplot Education Assistance program has been offered to Aberdeen employees and some have taken advantage of the opportunity. This provides 100 percent reimbursement per calendar year for structured professional development programs such as GED, CPA and welding classes to name a few. The program also provides 80 percent reimbursement for college undergraduate and post-graduate degrees. Onsite classes in resume preparation have been conducted in the Aberdeen plant for more than two years,” Cuoio said.
Cuoio addressed another question that is of concern for area potato producers. Where to deliver contracted crops has been topic of some confusion.
“Growers who have contracted to provide potatoes to the Aberdeen plant will be making those deliveries to the new Caldwell plant,” said Cuoio.
While Wednesday, April 30, is the announced closing day, a letter sent to Aberdeen Mayor Morgan Anderson indicated workers may have jobs at the Aberdeen plant for a small time longer.
“It is expected layoffs will occur on April 30, 2014, or within thirteen (13) days thereafter when the facility ceases operations,” stated the letter from Simplot plant manager Bruce Hauber.
The letter was official notification to workers and the community affected that is mandated as part of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.