Cedar Valley business leaders work to prevent Hostess layoffs
WATERLOO (KWWL) -
Leaders in the Cedar Valley business community are working to keep a long-standing plant in Waterloo. Hostess Brands Inc. will decide Friday whether it will close all of its production plants in the country, following several days of worker strikes. Employees at the Waterloo plant have remained on the job, but their positions are still in jeopardy.
This all comes at the end of a difficult year for workers in the Cedar Valley and eastern Iowa. At least four other major employers have laid off workers or closed their doors in the past eight months. In fact, between business closings in Waterloo and Cedar Falls, plus layoffs at two major Cedar Rapids companies, approximately 800 people have lost their jobs since April.
That's when Rockwell Collins began a series of worker layoffs. Most recently, the company cut 80 jobs from its Cedar Rapids plant. That was in August, just a few days after Clipper Wind laid off 174 people.
That same month, Peregrine Financial Group closed following a scandal involving company founder and CEO Russ Wasendorf Senior. $200 million dollars in customer funds are still missing, and more than 200 people are now without a job.
Also in the Cedar Valley this year, BPI in Waterloo closed its doors. The company blames media hype over its "finely textured lean beef" product. The final day at the plant was May 25th. 200 workers lost their jobs that day.
With this in mind, Waterloo Mayor Buck Clark says they're doing everything they can to prevent another plant from closing.
"Another plant closing in Waterloo would not be a good thing. It would not be good for the city, and certainly not good for these families who depend on Hostess for their employment. So we're very hopeful this can be worked out," said Clark.
Clark said, the Hostess plant in downtown Waterloo has become an iconic part of the city's history. He explained, he'd hate to lose such an important business -- but not as much as he'd hate to see so many workers lose their jobs.
"I know our Greater Cedar Valley Alliance, the team, has worked very hard with the company to try to do what we can do from our end to try to keep these jobs here. But... it would be tragic," Clark said.
After all that work, Clark and the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber (GCVA&C) are now waiting on a final decision from the company -- just like everyone else.
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