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Schumer: We Can All Be Thankful For These Jobs This Thanksgiving 

Standing at the Kraft-Heinz Plant in Walton, NY, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today visited the Kraft-Heinz facility and spoke to workers, management, and local leaders about the future of the plant. Schumer and NY Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced a deal that would retain all of the existing employees at the Walton Facility. Schumer said the workers at the Walton facility are a smart, productive and capable workforce and both Kraft-Heinz’s and New York’s new investments will keep them in Walton 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. This deal has reversed the proposed cuts and instead restored more than 140 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,” said Schumer. “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 Delaware County.”

On November 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 Walton facility in Delaware 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 Walton facility in Delaware County. The Kraft-Heinz Walton facility, which produces cottage cheese and sour cream, employs a total of 141 people in Delaware County. Kraft-Heinz was planning to close the Walton facility and layoff all 141 employees. The agreement reached between Kraft-Heinz, Senator Schumer and Governor Cuomo will save the Walton plant and all 141 jobs for at least the next 5 years, ensuring that there are no layoffs or reductions at the facility.

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 Walton, Avon 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 Walton 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 Walton facility in particular will provide the plant with the best technology and machinery needed to make the cottage cheese and sour cream products that are manufactured on its premises.

In summary, 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.

Schumer was joined by Henry Huizinga, Plant Manager of Kraft Foods Walton; Joe LaPaglia, District Representative for United Food and Commercial Workers Local One; Glenn Nealis, Director of the Delaware County Department of Economic Development; Bruce Dolph, Supervisor for the Town of Walton; Ed Snow, Mayor of the Village of Walton; and Jim Eisel, Chair of the Delaware County Board of Supervisors.

“As a result of Senator Schumer’s efforts to save the Kraft plant in Walton, the community and all of Delaware County has an extra reason to give thanks this year.  The Senator, in partnership with Governor Cuomo, showed quick and decisive leadership that will preserve 150 sorely needed jobs locally and many more across New York State,” said Glenn Nealis, Director of Delaware County Department of Economic Development.

“I want to thank Senator Schumer very much for intervening in this important economic matter for Delaware County. Losing approximately 150 jobs would be a great loss for any community, and the agreement saving these jobs is a positive development for the Walton area,” said Jim Eisel, Chair, Delaware County Board of Supervisors.

“Senator Schumer’s work, along with that of the Governor and State Senator Bonacic, has been a life-saver for our community. The agreement worked out with Kraft Heinz to keep the plant open and jobs here has saved Walton from collapse. This is a great agreement for our community and I cannot thank them enough,” said Ed Snow, Mayor of the Village of Walton.