TORRINGTON – In a letter to Wyoming Workforce Services in Torrington and Mayor Mike Varney, Western Sugar Cooperative announced it would be permanently laying off 92 employees by the end of January 2019.
Varney read part of the letter during Tuesday’s Torrington City Council meeting. The letter stated the lay-off is “based on current and projected business plans and needs, Western Sugar intends to permanently lay-off employees at this facility” and restated that the lay-offs will be permanent several times.
Varney told the council and citizens in attendance this news could mean Western Sugar is going to shut down the factory, which they have been reportedly trying to do for several years. Most recently, Western Sugar announced it would be shutting down the plant in Nov. 2016.
“You can interpret it two ways,” Varney said. “One could read that they are going to shut the factory down, which is probably pretty much what this insinuates, or secondly it would be a way to do what I’m going to say is union-busting and get rid of the jobs they think are high-priced.”
Varney attributed the lay-off and potential shutdown in Torrington to the fact Western Sugar has invested heavily in processing factories in Scottsbluff, Neb., and Fort Morgan, Colo. – factories owned by Western Sugar. Varney said the company leases the Torrington factory – reportedly for $1 a year from a Montana company that purchased the factory for the acreage that came with it.
“There evidently must be no doubt that Western must have backed themselves into a corner,” he said. “That occurred because they spent bucks, bucks, bucks in Scottsbluff and Fort Morgan and haven’t been able to realize what they expected at those two factories.
“This factory isn’t really theirs, it’s leased, and it’s probably easy for them to make decisions like that because they own the factories in Fort Morgan and in Scottsbluff. It’s disappointing to say the least.”
This lay-off is the most recent in a string of events Varney called “no good.” Since 2015, Western Sugar has announced lay-offs and the closure of the Torrington facility several times, but delays in upgrades at other plants kept Torrington open.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve never been pleased about the way this has gone on,” Varney said. “We’re on, we’re off, we’re on – it’s not a good situation. I’m surprised they’ve been able to staff it like they have. That’s no way to be employed – I don’t give a darn what anybody thinks. You can’t go to work one day wondering if you’re going to be there for a job the next day. That’s no good.”