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Juice plant closure has human impact

Posted on July 24, 2014 by Taber Times

For many of us who have spent a large portion of our lives within those walls, that first line is a sucker punch to the stomach. Facebook makes news almost instantaneous. Reading a post from a former co-worker right after the meeting with the current employees that the plant was closing was like hearing a friend had passed away. So many memories flooded into my mind….

First day of campaign – wow, where did all the extra workers come from? All the sudden there were over 200 employees coming and going all hours of the day and night. The parking lot was full of cars.

Watching the beans, peas and corn being delivered right outside the main office. Seeing supervisors sitting on top of the hoppers as the vegetables arrive. The cafeteria filled to capacity with people, the hallways full of people waiting to punch in or out on the time clocks. There were sad days. The death of a co-worker as he travelled to Lethbridge on company business, the injury of another in the same accident. The illnesses that slowly made it impossible for others to continue employment. Accidents on the job site. The closing of the canning line and the layoff of some full time staff as a result.

There were happy days. The silly toys that were thrown around the office to help lighten the mood. The year three were pregnant at the same time. The Christmas parties for the kids that were held in the cafeteria and the wrapping events that took place before hand. The installation of a better and more efficient juice line.

The pride in winning plant of the year for the entire Safeway organization throughout North America.

There were stressful times. The removal of the canning line. September 11th. Installation of the jelly, drink crystals, and spice lines. The introduction of new computer programs, new quality assurance procedures, the ongoing and constant training.

There was pride in what we made. There were many managers, some memorable for various reasons, some not so much. There were employees who left to pursue their dreams, others to marry, others to move away; and more kept arriving who needed to be trained. There were entire families that worked together, other employees who met and married their co-workers. There were friendships forged that will survive the closing of the plant. The human aspect of the closing of the plant needs to be honoured.

Michelle Kimura

Lucerne Employee

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