AVON – On Wednesday, U. S. Senator Charles Schumer toured the Kraft-Heinz facility in Avon and celebrated an agreed-upon investment of $20 million to keep hundreds of jobs in the area.
According to a press release from Sen. Schumer, over 400 jobs were saved in early November when he and New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a deal that would enable Kraft Heinz to retain all of the existing employees at the Avon Facility and upgrade the plant to facilitate future success.
Schumer said the workers at the Avon facility are a smart, productive and capable workforce and the new investment by Kraft-Heinz’s and New York State will keep the company in Avon for years to come.
“This agreement that Governor Cuomo and I forged with Kraft-Heinz is something we can all be thankful for this Thanksgiving, and it means the cool whip produced at the Avon facility will be on our pumpkin pie for years to come,” said Schumer. “This deal has reversed the proposed cuts and instead restored more than 400 good-paying, local jobs over the next five years, in addition to providing tens of millions of dollars for factory upgrades. At a time when they were looking to trim down, we were able to bring Kraft-Heinz to the table and craft a deal with New York State that invests in this productive workforce, modernizes its facilities and churns out globally recognized products that will keep their ‘Made in NY’ stamp. I was glad to help negotiate this agreement with Governor Cuomo and Kraft-Heinz. This is a win-win deal that will be good for Kraft-Heinz and help retain and grow jobs in Livingston County. That’s why today in thanks for the hardworking men and women at the Kraft Avon plant, I am urging families to join my family to support Avon’s future growth by making Avon-made Cool Whip the topping on our Thanksgiving pumpkin pie”
On Nov. 4, Schumer and Cuomo announced an agreement had been reached between New York State and Kraft-Heinz to save three of their facilities in Upstate New York, including the Avon facility in Livingston County that was initially slated for closure, as well as add additional jobs in Lowville. Schumer said this agreement will preserve a significant employment base throughout Upstate New York for years to come. In addition, the agreement paved the way for a matching capital investment from both Kraft-Heinz and New York State that will allow for future investment in the company’s technology, facilities and operations.
Specifically, the agreement has reversed the planned closure of the Avon facility in Livingston County. The Kraft-Heinz Avon facility, which produces Lunchables and Cool Whip products, employs a total of 405 people and is the largest private sector employer in Livingston County. Kraft-Heinz was planning to close the Avon facility and layoff all 405 employees. The agreement reached between Kraft-Heinz, Senator Schumer and Governor Cuomo will not only save the Avon plant and all 405 jobs for at least the next 5 years, but also includes a commitment from Kraft Heinz to potentially expand Avon over the next five years and add new jobs to the facility, bringing the total employment above 405.
In addition, as part of the agreement, New York State will invest $20 million over the next five years at Kraft Heinz’s plants in Avon, Walton and Lowville. This is provided the company also invests $20 million over that same amount of time, which was agreed to as a part of this deal. If after those five years, Kraft-Heinz has not decreased their aggregate employment in New York State, and has invested at least $25 million in its Upstate operations, New York State will then invest an additional $5 million, bringing the combined matching total investment to at least $50 million in Upstate New York.
Schumer said these investments will allow Kraft-Heinz to modernize their operations at the Avon facility and other plants, which are becoming old and are in need of an upgrade to support production operations. Schumer said this investment in the Avon facility in particular will provide the plant with the best technology and machinery needed to make the Lunchables and Cool Whip products that are manufactured on its premises.
The overarching agreement reached between Kraft-Heinz and New York State will dramatically reduce the 939 total planned layoffs over the next 12 to 24 months. Schumer said Kraft-Heinz was initially planning to first close the Avon facility and layoff all 405 employees. The agreement reached saved that plant in Livingston County and all 405 jobs for at least the next 5 years. Second, Schumer said the deal reversed the planned closure of the Walton facility in Delaware County. This means all 141 jobs were saved for at least the next five years. Third, in an effort to help save the 393 jobs at the Campbell facility in Steuben County, Schumer and Cuomo secured a commitment from Kraft-Heinz to delay the closure and continue to operate the facility for at least the next 12 to 24 months, and to work with state, federal and local officials to help find a strategic buyer for the facility that would keep the plant open and retain the 393 jobs. The company has also agreed to offer any employees leaving the Campbell facility first choice for the new positions at the Avon and Lowville plants. Finally, the Lowville Kraft-Heinz facility in Lewis County will retain all of its existing 340 employees and will add scores of additional jobs at the Lowell facility over the next five years.
Teamsters Local 118 President and Principle Officer Paul Markwitz said, “Despite initial concerns about the Avon Kraft Plant closing, we are incredibly pleased that the plant will remain open. There is no doubt that the personal efforts of Senator Schumer and Governor Cuomo played a key role in saving and securing nearly 400 jobs at the Avon Location. This effort results in the Kraft Plant in Avon New York to be positioned for long-term growth opportunities that will benefit the entire community, region and state.”
The now Kraft-owned Avon plant originally opened in 1913 as local cannery business. It was later acquired and expanded by Kraft and began producing Cool Whip in 1967 and then Lunchables in 1996. The facility encompasses 490,000 sq ft of space on 67 acres and includes three Lunchables production lines, three Cool Whip production lines, and four Cool Whip filler lines. 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of Kraft Cool Whip.
During his visit, Schumer addressed employees and met with local plant leaders and elected officials. Schumer was joined by Kraft Avon Plant Manager Danny Agee, Teamsters Local 118 President and Principle Officer Paul Markwitz and Business Manager Dave Weilert, and local elected officials.