Source: San Fransisco Chronicle
Seven months after closing its meatpacking plant in San Leandro, Smithfield Foods Inc. is closing its San Jose facility and laying off 139 workers, marking its departure from the Bay Area after decades in business.
In a letter to state officials, the Smithfield, Va., pork processor said it regretted the “circumstances that made the layoff necessary.” Along with 105 production employees, plant managers, supervisors, human resources personnel and other workers are affected. The layoffs are effective March 13. The plant produced bacon and corned beef, according to Smithfield’s website.mployees, plant managers, supervisors, human resources personnel and other workers are affected. The layoffs are effective March 13. The plant produced bacon and corned beef, according to Smithfield’s website.
“It was fairly short notice, and they didn’t need to move their plant,” Hughes said. “There are other locations that could have worked locally.”
Smithfield has been downsizing its operations amid a companywide reorganization announced in 2015. Most of its plants and distribution centers are in the South and Midwest. Founded in 1936, Smithfield was sold to WH Group, a Chinese company headquartered in Hong Kong, in 2013. It has more than 40,000 employees in the U.S.
Smithfield said it is offering the San Jose employees jobs at other locations within the company or with other local employers, along with relocation assistance. The closest Smithfield operation is in Los Angeles.
The San Jose plant is in an industrial enclave of the city near the intersection of Highway 101 and Interstate 880, not far from the office buildings lining North First Street that house the headquarters of tech companies PayPal and Nutanix. It was once known as Mohawk Packing and acquired by Smithfield in the late 1990s, according to city records. With its closure, the meatpacking sector in San Jose is down to one midsize operation — San Jose Valley Veal — compared with seven or eight such facilities 20 years ago, Hughes said.
Other Bay Area meatpacking centers have shrunk over the decades. San Leandro, where Smithfield shut its Saag’s plant last year, has lost several producers. Part of San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood is known as Butchertown, for the area where the city concentrated its slaughterhouses in the 19th century. The Swift & Co. plant in South San Francisco, crucial to that city’s development, closed in 1968.