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Tyson to Cut Up to 600 Jobs in Arkansas

The layoffs at the chicken-processing facility are the latest cost-cutting measures by the meat producer.

September 25, 2003|From Bloomberg News

Tyson Foods Inc. said it would fire as many as 600 workers at its Hope, Ark., chicken-processing plant to reduce costs.

The cuts will affect mainly unionized workers who remove bones from chicken carcasses, Tyson spokesman Ed Nicholson said. The plant employs about 1,650 people and processes about 1.3 million birds a week.

"We're outsourcing some of the operations to other facilities," Nicholson said. "It's economically feasible to do so."

The cuts are the latest cost-saving measures initiated by Tyson since the Springdale, Ark.-based company became the world's largest meat producer with its 2001 acquisition of beef processor IBP Inc.

Since December, Tyson has said it would close chicken-processing plants in three states in addition to Arkansas as a glut of chicken meat contributed to a 55% reduction in profit from poultry in the company's fiscal third quarter.

Closings affecting more than 1,800 workers in Maryland, Florida and Oklahoma were announced earlier.

"The chicken market is just flooded now," said Michael Keen, president of Local 2008 of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union.

Tyson this week said per-share net income for the fiscal fourth quarter, which ends Saturday, would be 35 cents to 40 cents, up from 24 cents a year earlier, on strong U.S. beef demand. That was higher than the average analyst estimate of 23 cents in a survey by Thomson First Call.

Per-share profit in the fiscal year that begins Sunday will be 90 cents to $1.20, Tyson said. The average analyst forecast is $1.04.

Shares of Tyson fell 3 cents to $14.22 on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock has gained 19% from a year ago.

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