Here’s a shocker for you: Tyson’s meat packing plant in Emporia to close

 Update 1/28/08:  To get a feel for what is happening in Emporia, where the shock is barely settling in with residents, read these four articles and the comments from the Emporia Gazette (here, here, here and here).

Update 1/29/08:    American Congress for Truth blog has a post on the Emporia situation today here. Post says Somalis plan to leave Emporia.

We have been writing for several months about the fact that the Tyson’s meat packing plant in Emporia, KS had been bringing hundreds of Somali workers (400 by one count) and their families to this Kansas city causing a culture clash of some magnitude.   As a matter of fact, we have a whole category (over 20 posts) here at RRW addressing that controversy.

Now comes the news, out of the blue and late on a Friday, that Tyson’s will lay off 1500 workers at that plant.

Beef slaughter operations will cease within the next few weeks. However, the facility will still be used as a cold storage and distribution warehouse and will process ground beef.


The discontinuation of slaughter operations will result in the elimination of approximately 1,500 of the 2,400 jobs currently provided at the Emporia plant.

I’ve wondered on previous occasions what happens to refugees and towns flooded with immigrants if the economy starts to tank.  It is already difficult enough I’m told to find work for unskilled laborers such as the Somalis, where will they go now?    Will they stay in Emporia on welfare?  Or, move with Tyson’s to another unsuspecting city?  Time will tell.

Affected workers will continue to be paid and receive benefits for 60 days. Tyson Human Resources representatives will begin meeting with them next week to discuss other employment opportunities within the company. The workers will be encouraged to consider transferring to other Tyson locations, such as company beef facilities at Finney County, Kansas; Dakota City and Lexington, Nebraska; and Joslin, Illinois.

Come to think of it, didn’t Tyson’s representatives only about two months ago lecture the people of Emporia to welcome these newcomers to their city, that the Somalis were now part of the community? 

12 thoughts on “Here’s a shocker for you: Tyson’s meat packing plant in Emporia to close

  1. i here lots of talk about somalis at the ole iowa beef plant ( now tysons) something no body talks about is the fact that the plant is the crossroads of the drug industy of emporia kansas.i know because i was there.thousands of dollars per day were made there in the parking lot and in the eating area inside the plant. it got so bad back in the late 1980’s that the cops raided the place wile the plant was in operation and running with the employee’s on the line. people dropped there equiment and ran out the doors,it looked like the key stone cops!later in the 90’s the keys to the drug money changed hands, but the man that ran the operations for the cocaine is still there,and making money from a new generation. good luck emporia,the dirt goes right to city hall.


  2. For you conspiracy theorists, here’s an AP article that gives the actual causes of the closing:

    Tyson cutting 1,500 jobs in Emporia
    Tyson Foods, the world’s largest meat company, announced today that it would cease beef slaughter operations at its Emporia plant, cutting about 1,500 of the 2,400 jobs at the plant.

    The cuts were a response to a difficult beef market, high grain prices spurred by the demand for corn-based ethanol, and the location of the Emporia plant in eastern Kansas, which has been part of Tyson Foods since the company’s purchase of IBP Inc. in 2001, said Dick Bond, president and CEO of Tyson Foods,

    Beef slaughter operations at the Emporia plant, which has about 2,400 employees, would end within the next few weeks, the Little Rock, Ark., company said in a news release. The company would continue to use the Emporia facility as a cold storage and distribution warehouse and will process ground beef there.

    “There continues to be far more beef slaughter capacity than available cattle, and we believe this problem will continue to afflict the industry for the foreseeable future,” Bond said. “We estimate the current slaughter overcapacity in the industry to be between 10,000 and 14,000 head of cattle per day.”

    Bond also said cattle production had moved from eastern Kansas to western Kansas in the last few decades.

    Tyson also said the company didn’t see signs of growth in the fed cattle supply over the next two to three years, and that high grain prices spurred by the demand for corn-based ethanol also contributed to their decision to cut jobs in Emporia.

    Jim Lochner, senior group vice president of Tyson Fresh Meats, said in the release that by making the cuts in Emporia, the company would be able to send more cattle to other more strategically located facilities.


  3. Second shift slaughter ended today.All those people didn’t have a month or two notice. Sounds like Tyson is going to run through the cattle in the pipeline,clean up,and secure power,water,and steam- Done.
    From 2 months to a 5 day,to a one day leadtime.No one woke up and said”Think I’ll close Emporia plant today”.The plan was there,and it’s been fine-tuned over the last 6 years.If you’ve closed 20 or 25 plants(One per quarter!)- You know how do it quickly…


  4. Take away the unions/collective bargaining, flood the country with people lacking language skills, labor skills, education and social networks to compete against,remove safety and health regulations, do away with trial lawyers, or limit awards, and the American worker, no matter how numerous, (and consumer, too) stands alone, with zero recourse, against the most powerful private entities on the planet.

    — Infinicat

    Ps. The refugees multi-task, in that besides bringing the 3rd world here for the US worker to compete against, the to-be-expected terror plots, as we see in England, will serve to keep the “war on terror”, surveillance, police-state mentality, dismantling of the Constitution, grotesque spending favoring corporate cronies, and cult of fear alive and well. Lionheart is only the beginning.

    Anyone see the movie “Brazil” ? If not, run out to rent it.


  5. Tyson’s restructuring since the purchase of IBP and Hudson is bigger than I thought! Where will all the refugees coming to small towns work? There may be more,but here’s where I stopped looking for Tyson plant closings after ’02- Bentonville AR,Jackson MS,Detroit MI,Grand Rapids IA,Norfolk NE,West Point NE,Stillwell OK,Jackson FL,Portland ME,Manchester NH,Augusta ME,Pine Bluff AR,Oeilwin IA,Independence IA,Berlin MD,Bloomer AR,Boise ID,Pasco WA,and ‘most’ of Emporia KS.
    I think the count can be 20+ of closed plants.And this is only ONE corporation.But this is what they do-buy,cut,close,gut,and consolidate.This is too much of an upheaval for these communities in this short of time.Not only the loss of jobs,but Tyson actively bringing in illegals and refugees to work,then walking away from the social costs.


  6. [going further off topic, but will boomerang back on at the end]

    With stricter immigration having something like 80+% public/bipartisan support, I think this is as good as it gets for any issue. Support could escalate to near 100% levels if the economy tanks hard, as will foreign aid of any kind (think Middle East). Or if there’s a terror attack from a refugee/immigrant group.

    IMO, the paralysis is due to bipartisan bickering/hate/mutual ridicule/idiocy. Which is exactly what the corporations want in order to sustain the status quo (inflated available labor hrs).

    This is the one issue that should build a bridge between both parties, but it is not happening. A golden moment in American history is slipping right through our fingers. It’s as if we’d rather wear the corporate yoke than agree with the opposing party.

    Yes, I believe the government at this time is the most corporate-sector dominated since the days of Mc Kinley.
    The immigration/refugee issue is perhaps the best example. Being the largest employer in a small town, with a household income $17K lower than the national average, Tyson never expected resistance/bad PR to their machinations. When the dreaded NAFTA highway opens, Emporia and Tyson will be along the route. I have a feeling that they’ll resume operations, and be at a distinct advantage to do so.

    — Infinicat


  7. Sorry Infinicat, after a little fresh air and barn chores I realize I didn’t understand your point. You are suggesting that Tysons Food has a Machiavellian
    strategy to punish Emporia as an example to other cities that might question its immigrant employment practices. That would be the story of a lifetime if it could be proven!


  8. Infinicat, I am impressed by the time and thought you put into your thesis. I don’t even think I could write that much (and I am not being sarcastic) my brain is old.

    But, if what you are saying is true, that large corporations own the government and a few rabble rousing citizens have moved a huge corporation, then it follows that the citizens have all the power. Wow, and isn’t that just where we should be?

    In all seriousness, I don’t have any guess why Tyson’s did what it did, not only to the citizens of Emporia but to the refugees they are either firing or moving from city to city. They are just a big company looking out for their bottomline. If I were in the refugee industry, like Catholic Charities in Emporia, I would not want to be affiliated with companies like Tysons.

    As a matter of fact, I see the refugee resettlement program imploding, maybe not this year or next, as an enormous groundswell is building for reform of all immigration. (I’m getting off topic, I know!)

    Leaders in the refugee industry would be wise to start reforming this program now.


  9. AC…

    I see The Reservation is like Hotel California: ” You can check out, but you can never leave “. 🙂

    Looks like I’ve already been cross-posted/crucified by my friends at RRW in absentia. I am grateful, honored, and forced to respond.

    Was Tyson planning to leave when they tugged on the administration’s leash to bring in the Somalis? Was Roger Brownrigg lying two months ago? Unlikely. Anyone notice they’re leaving all the machinery in place? They’ve only mothballed, for the time being.

    Tyson did precisely what a few of us in the community expected. I said so openly and pleaded for moderation for precisely that reason.

    Let’s understand one thing: All American immigration, legal and illegal, from the earliest English settlers to this day, has been corporate-driven.

    I find it unspeakably naive to think that the refugee agencies are wagging the dog! All that is a witless smokescreen allowing those responsible to continue unscathed.

    I am not “blaming” the vocal locals. I too, protested what was going on, made comments about Tyson there and on other blogs.

    I am saying that Tyson HQ, NOT local managers, sensed the empowerment and bad PR of local disssenters at the forum, myself included, decided not to weather the storm — and played the only card they had.

    All Gazette Forum members knew this risk existed from day one. I did and said so, clearly outlining the potential (now very real) economic impact for Emporia.

    Many openly and strongly called for Tyson to close. Their words still hang there at the forum.

    I am not blaming anyone for anything. This is how it had to go down, and now it has.

    Corporations are not compromising or taking prisoners any more. They’re simply moving, closing, and sending a real shot across the bow to the other communities in the same position.

    The message, in case some still don’t get it, is: Conform or face dire economic sanctions. Sound familiar? It’s exactly the way we conduct our foreign policy. And for the same reason: They’re dictating from a position of total power.

    I do not believe people should silently bow just because they’re tacitly threatened with their community’s livelihood and well being by corporate overlords.

    They should, however, be prepared to face and eat the outcome.

    Large corporations totally own the government. The balance of power is gone. And it is going to get much worse. We still have what our current Commander-in-Chief calls “That goddamned piece of paper”, the troublesome Constitution and Bill of Rights. Use it, fight enemies foreign and domestic for it, or lose it. There is a verifiable, very real Jihad being waged against our way of life — by Americans.

    I believe in that early American flag that said “Live free or die”. It’s our turn to die a little for our freedom. It’s a bitter pill, with serious, long-lasting consequences for us, but we spoke up in Emporia, even if it led to a pyrrhic victory.

    I see this deterministically. Everyone, including Tyson, refugee forum dissenters, well-meaning pro-refugee forces, outside elements (yeah, you!), all played out our roles in the only way we knew how. Me too. I knew in my heart that this would happen, and that there was no way to prevent it.

    AC, this is grim news for Emporia. Hopefully, another employer will see us for the gem we are & swoop in to take Tyson’s place, but I would not hold my breath.

    I pray Tyson does not do the same ruthless thing to those people in Tenn. If they do, I won’t be flying up to collect on your generous, guilded-with-cheeky mockery offer. Just UPS a Six-pack to the unemployment office. They’ll know what to do.

    — Infinicat.


  10. Blulite, I just went to the forum at the Emporia Gazette (scroll way down to the bottom of months of comments), and sure enough….

    I see that the blame game has begun. Infinicat you are wrong! I know this so well from our refugee issue in Hagerstown. Some other factors were behind the end of our refugee program here but we were called “unwelcoming” because it suits the agenda of those in the refugee industry. You see because they are on the side of all that is good, they are never wrong.

    Clearly some giant company doesn’t shut its plant because of a handful of people asking questions about refugees. It would be pretty heady stuff if we had that much power.

    Now, if the Shelbyville,TN plant (where there is also much controversy about Somali employees), closes its doors soon, I will eat my words and take Infinicat out for a drink on our new expense account at our powerful immigration reform lobbying firm staffed with little old retired ladies, rednecks, and assorted vocal folks.


  11. Typical cut-and-gut.Tyson bought IBP 7 years ago.This had to have been in the works for 2 years.Now they are closing and consolidating plants all over(remember Nebraska?)The refugee slave-labor Tyson uses is “disposable”.So is Emporia,Norfok,and West Point. The tax credits and subsidies Tyson can get are not disposable.
    We now have hundreds of refugees here that will be on welfare in three months-not including those that already are.The county clinic is swamped-TB,HIV-you name it.A week ago the Tyson spokesperson was at the Emporia Chamber of Commerce saying how wonderful things were(He’s also on the chamber board of directors!!!)Here’s the local papers take on it.Scroll down to the comments!

    Even pretty funny that a few people blame a half dozen of us that want some transparency in the refugee business are blamed for this!Sadly,that’s the only funny thing about it..Emporia – You got bent over AGAIN!!!!


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