Unilever to close ice cream plant in 2013

layoffs begin this fall

September 12, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE |

HAGERSTOWN — Unilever informed government officials that layoffs at its Hagerstown ice cream plant are expected to begin this fall and the plant will officially close in August 2013, a Washington County economic development official said Monday night.

The Good Humor-Breyers Ice Cream plant on Frederick Street employs about 440 people, said Timothy Troxell, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission. Unilever North American Ice Cream officials did not have a schedule for how many employees would be laid off during the next two years, Troxell said.

However, Unilever officials filed Work Adjustment and Retraining Notifications (WARN) on Sept. 2, Troxell said.

Under federal law, companies expecting to lay off 50 or more employees must provide notification at least 60 days in advance, according to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Troxell said layoffs could begin in October, since the plant normally sees a seasonal decline in work that month. This year, those layoffs, which typically affect part-time workers, could also include full-timers, he said.

The company will be taking out equipment lines that produce different ice cream products, Troxell said. Some lines have more workers than others, he said.

Troxell said Peter Thomas, executive director of the Western Maryland Consortium, has talked to plant officials about retraining opportunities for the plant’s workers.

A plant official said in June 2009 that the ice cream plant would close at the end of 2011, and work would be transferred to other facilities owned by Unilever.

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