Blue Bell Ice Cream Announces Layoffs, Furloughs

Friday, May 15th 2015, 4:01 pm
By: Dee Duren

The CEO and President of Blue Bell Ice Cream announced the company will have to reduce the size of its work force and take other cost-cutting measures including salary cuts and furloughs.

The company hasn't said whether the changes will affect workers at the Broken Arrow plant, but the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce said at least 20 workers will be out of jobs.

"We were notified that this announcement includes the layoffs of 20 full time employees and the furlough of additional employees. The positive news is 114 employees will remain on full time,” said Wes Smithwick, President and CEO of the BA Chamber and Economic Development Council in a news release.

The chamber said about 75 employees will be furloughed.

Calling the measure an "agonizing decision" Paul Kruse said they will lay off hundreds of workers and reduce hours and pay for others.

“At Blue Bell, our employees are part of our family, and we did everything we could to keep people on our payroll for as long as possible," Kruse said Friday. 

"At the same time, we have an obligation to do what is necessary to bring Blue Bell back and ensure its viability in the future. This is a sad day for all of us at Blue Bell, and for me personally."5/14/2015 Related Story: Blue Bell, State Agencies Reach Agreement To Get Safe Ice Cream Back On Shelves

About 1,400 employees will be furloughed, and approximately 750 full-time and 700 part-time employees – or 37 percent of the total Blue Bell workforce of 3,900 – will be laid off, Kruse said.

The employee actions will affect three groups:

  • Employees who are essential to ongoing operations and cleaning and repair efforts will continue to work but have pay cuts.
  • A second group of employees will be placed on partially paid furlough. They will be a portion of their current pay, with the expectation that they will return to work as production resumes.
  • A third group that will be laid off.
Blue Bell said it will suspend operations and lay off employees at the following distribution centers: Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana; Kansas City and Wichita, Kansas; Louisville, Kentucky; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Las Vegas, Nevada; Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina; Columbia, South Carolina; and, Richmond, Virginia.