SAN JOSE, Calif. - Amy's Kitchen, a successful organic, healthy frozen food producer says it will close its San Jose frozen pizza production center.
The company says the plant will shut down in September though pizza production will be halted in days. The closure will result in 300 jobs lost.
The closure announcement comes just over a year after the facility opened. Amy's Kitchen says economic woes fueled by inflation, skyrocketing materials costs, labor shortages and disruptions in the worldwide supply chain are to blame for the shutdown.
"It’s very sad to have to do this, it’s brutal," said Fred Scarpulla, acting chief operating officer with Amy’s Kitchen. "This is very emotional. I was very invested in the San Jose plant and I really wanted it to succeed." Scarpulla is also the company’s chief culinary officer.
Ruby Luna, an employee at the plant, said employees were called to an early morning meeting on Monday and told the news. "Shocked, I am still in shock right now," said Luna. "I have not yet processed all of it. We are pretty much just all wanting to know what is going on."
According to the company, they are experiencing a more than 125-percent increase to the price of sunflower oil used in many of their meals.
And, while Amy’s Kitchen’s three other food processing facilities have been able to meet production and revenue goals, Amy's says their San Jose location is losing $1,000,000 a month, which they say cannot be offset by their other facilities.
In January, the company found itself embedded in a labor dispute over workplace health and safety issues.
Workers alleged that Amy's Kitchen wants to work them like animals.
"We want to be treated like family, like workers like they say," said Ines Delaluz, who works at an Amy's Kitchen plant in Santa Rosa, adding, "They push so hard. Even on the line, they work too fast."
She said that has caused serious injuries to her and other coworkers.
"Doctors, they don't give me good news or good hope that I will be like before, 100%," said Delaluz.
Amy's Kitchen has since said they "have invested heavily in safety, well-being, and opportunities for our employees... because it's the right thing to do."
At the San Jose plant the union UNITE HERE Local 19, which was trying to organize workers at the plant, believes the unionization efforts contributed to the sudden closure. "It is definitely, you know, retaliation against the workers because they want to organize," said Raquel Alvarez, president of UNITED HERE Local 19.
Amy's Kitchen released the following statement about the closure of the San Jose facility:
Since its founding, Amy’s Kitchen has worked to demonstrate there is a different way to do business. We bring thoughtful deliberation and a culture of care when making business decisions. Like many other businesses, we are working to meet the challenges posed by widespread supply chain disruptions, fluctuating consumer demand, and persistent inflation. As Amy’s Kitchen faces the headwinds of this economic environment, we have made the difficult decision to cease operations at our San Jose, California food processing facility.
Our employees have remained top of mind during this realignment. In addition to continuing employees’ salaries and benefits during this transition, we have committed to provide all impacted employees with career placement assistance. We will continue to live our promise of doing what is best for our customers, our farmers, our employees, and our planet.