Perdue Farms Corporate Spokesman Luis Luna explained the move is a cost-cutting measure.
“This is still a tough economy, and Perdue is working hard to stay competitive,” Luna said in a release. “We take any decision affecting our associates very seriously, but the economics of the situation left us with no other choice. In order to keep up with the rest of the industry, Perdue is moving to a third-party contractor effective March 13.”
Catching crews catch and crate the birds on the farm, before they are transported to the Rockingham slaughterhouse and processing plant. It typically pays a low wage and doesn’t include benefits.
“Perdue is one of the last chicken companies to keep their own catching crews,” Luna explained. “Poultry companies are facing near record-high grain costs, and the price of poultry still hasn’t picked up like most of the economy, so we have to stay competitive with the rest of the industry.”
The Rockingham Processing Plant employs about 1,200 people, in addition to contracted farmers and laborers throughout the county.
“We are moving the work to a contractor who specializes in catching, just as we do now with cafeterias and plant sanitation, so it can be done more efficiently by folks who are experts,” Luna said. “The contractor will pay for equipment purchase and maintenance, which will reduce our costs.”
Luna said affected associates can apply for positions with the contractor, and we hope a good number will be hired by the contractor. Others will be offered the opportunity to apply for open positions at the Rockingham Plant.
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 15, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.