One-Third of Blue Bell Workers Losing Jobs

Recall means 1,450 full- and part-time employees will be out of work
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 16, 2015 12:59 PM CDT
A sign explains why shelves sit empty of Blue Bell ice cream at a grocery store in Dallas.   (LM Otero)
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(Newser) – Blue Bell Creameries will lay off more than a third of its workforce following a series of listeria illnesses linked to its ice cream that prompted a nationwide recall of all its products. The company, whose production plants remain closed, said 750 full-time employees and 700 part-time workers are losing their jobs. That represents about 37% of its 3,900 employees. Another 1,400 workers will be furloughed but will still receive a substantial portion of their current pay.

The 108-year-old company's production plants in Texas, Oklahoma, and Alabama have been closed since Blue Bell issued a full recall in April. The company's ice cream has been linked to 10 listeria illnesses in four states, including three deaths in Kansas. Blue Bell CEO and President Paul Kruse called the decision to layoff and furlough workers "agonizing," though the company said it hopes it can eventually restore its workforce. (In the meantime, a black market is emerging for the ice cream.)

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