STANWOOD — Frozen vegetables processor Twin City Foods has sent layoff notices to 92 employees at its Stanwood packaging plant.
The company expects the layoffs to occur sometime between May 18 and June 1, said Sue Casteel, corporate human resources manager.
The company had announced last year that it would close the plant and move most of the equipment to a new plant being built in Pasco. Twin City Foods offered jobs in Eastern Washington to many of the employees, Casteel said.
“We have had just a handful who wanted to do that,” Casteel said. “Most of them wanted to stay here in Stanwood. Deep roots. It’s hard to pick up and leave when you’ve been here all of your life.”
Many families in Stanwood and north Snohomish and south Skagit counties have worked at the plant, said Rachel McKibbin, a business representative for Teamsters Local 231, which represents most of the employees.
“It’s a terrible process,” McKibbin said. “Generations of these families have worked at Twin City Foods. It’s scary. It’s not a good time for the employees or their families, unfortunately.”
Hourly wages ranged from about $12 to $27 per hour, depending on experience. The union is working with several state groups, including the Washington State Labor Council, to retrain the employees.
Twin City Foods has been in Stanwood since 1943. It processes and packages mostly carrots, peas, baby lima beans, corn and green beans.
About 90 percent of the company’s vegetables are grown within an 80-mile radius of Pasco. Those vegetables are frozen at plants in Pasco and Ellensburg and then shipped in bulk to Stanwood for packaging. Twin City Foods doesn’t own its own label. It sells frozen vegetables for other companies to market.
The frozen vegetables are then shipped to the ports of Tacoma and Seattle.
Operating a new packaging plant in Pasco will save on transportation costs, Casteel said. Twin City Foods will keep its corporate offices in Stanwood. Those offices employ less than 40.
The company has put the 200,000-square-foot plant up for sale, but hasn’t found a buyer yet, Casteel said. The plant has 81,000 square feet of freezer space, 100,000 square feet of processing area and 20,000 square feet of dry storage and office space.
While Twin City Foods gave more than a year’s notice on the plant closure, the layoff notices are still a huge blow for the employees and the community, McKibbin said.
“When it’s actually happening — and your parents worked for that company — there’s a lot of fear with these employees about where they might go,” McKibbin said.
Jim Davis: 425-339-3097; email@example.com; @HBJnews.