200 jobs to be eliminated at Pilgrim's Pride plants in Chattanooga

200 jobs to be eliminated at Pilgrim's Pride plants in Chattanooga

July 13th, 2013 by Ellis Smith in Business Around the Region

A Pilgrim's Pride employee unloads a chicken truck at the chicken processing plant in downtown Chattanooga.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

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Pilgrim's Pride will cut 200 jobs in Chattanooga, building on a previous wave of 400 layoffs in 2012.

The company employed more than 1,500 workers at its Broad Street and Market Street facilities at the beginning of 2012, but today employs closer to 900.

According to the company, its cook and cold-storage facilities, which are in its Market Street building, will shut down within the next two weeks.

There are no changes at Pilgrim's "kill" operation on Broad Street, nor to its deboning operation on Market Street, the company said.

A spokesman said that employees would be offered jobs at Pilgrim's remaining downtown Chattanooga facilities, and that 40 jobs already had been added at the deboning plant.

The shift is part of a larger realignment at Pilgrim's that has been ongoing since May, which has seen Chattanooga moved from the prepared foods division to the small bird deboning division.

The eliminated cooking and cold storage operations are being consolidated at more modern and efficient facilities elsewhere in the region, said spokesman Cameron Bruett.

J.Ed. Marston, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president for marketing, said he's disappointed to hear about the job loss.

"Pilgrim's Pride has been a major employer for a long time," he said. "Although this is a large number of jobs, they'll remain a major employer. It's unfortunate but sometimes businesses have to make tough decisions. This reinforces the continuing need for job-creation efforts."

Contact staff writer Ellis Smith at esmith@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6315.