BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Nearly a thousand employees of the Dreyer’s Ice Cream plant in Bakersfield will be temporarily without a job come late November and December. The temporary layoffs come at a time when inflation across the United States is at 8.26 percent.
More than 900 employees at the Bakersfield plant will be without a paycheck for two weeks at a time during two separate shutdowns in both November and December. In a letter to the mayor’s office, the company listed out which jobs at the plant would be impacted. Dreyer’s temporary layoffs include 248 machine operators, 331 production operators, and 196 key operators.
Nick Hill, President and CEO of the Kern County Black Chamber of Commerce, says this layoff is not ideal.
“As far as the economy in general, when you have a company as big as Dreyer’s and Frito Lay, I’d say it has a city and countywide impact,” said Hill. “When you look at the amount of employees that they have, it’s kind of devastating.”
Hill stresses the impact the shutdowns will have on families’ everyday lives, as well as the timing of the shutdowns being so close to the November and December holidays.
“I want to touch on the fact that it will increase the stress in the home, it would increase the insecurity, and of course, the morale,” said Hill.
The company gave a statement about its goals for the shutdown. It says its goal is to enhance production.
“As part of this plan for growth, we have been installing new production lines, adding jobs, and now we will be migrating all our business systems to a new software managed by Froneri (our parent company). In order to implement this systems migration, we will be pausing ice cream production for a short period of time towards the end of November and resuming in early December,” Nestle’s statement reads.
Hill says there are resources available for those who need it when production halts.
“Their first immediate need would be to apply for unemployment, but the other thing is to think about maybe starting a small business to avoid that situation,” Hill said.
People who are affected by the Dreyer’s shutdown and would like to apply for unemployment benefits can file an application with the state at the California Employment Development Department’s website.
According to the California EDD, the unemployment insurance program (UI) provides temporary payments to individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own, whether the unemployment is temporary or permanent, and who meet all the other eligibility requirements.
Hill says the Kern County Chamber can also help employees during the shutdowns.
“We have job leads, because we have a lot of corporate businesses and we get job leads all the time,” said Hill.
Employees from the plant both current and former contacted 23ABC to say that these layoffs happen every winter season, and those statements were confirmed by an email from Macarena Ivanissevich with Nestle.
"The planned pause in production in November is part of a maintenance upgrade period that we implement each year. And, as part of our maintenance upgrade plans this year, we are transitioning our business systems to a new software, which is a key component to our company’s growth plans, as it will help optimize our ability to produce and sell more ice cream," Ivanissevich's email reads.