35 to lose jobs at Franklin FoodsKemps plans to shift milk production from its Duluth facility to Minneapolis.
By: Mike Creger, Duluth News Tribune
Dairy giant Kemps on Monday told workers at its Duluth milk processing facility that production was being shifted to a Minneapolis facility, meaning 35 workers will be out of a job at Franklin Foods on Oct. 4.
Pat Radzak from Teamsters Local 346 said the Franklin workers the union represents were “shocked” by the announcement.
Franklin will still sell and distribute the Arrowhead brand of milk, meaning about 25 employees will stay on. Kemps will keep buying milk from the Northland but it will be sent to Minneapolis for processing.
Kemps spokeswoman Rachel Kyllo said the change will be “100 percent transparent” for those who currently order milk through Franklin, such as schools and colleges. When asked if the milk being sent back to the Northland would be from area cows, she said there was no way to segregate milk at the Minneapolis facility.
Kemps has been a managing partner of Franklin Foods since 1982. Radzak said some of those losing their jobs have been at the plant for 20 to 30 years. He said the union is still negotiating compensation for the laid off workers.
Kemps told workers that a drop in milk consumption and thus overall production is to blame for the consolidation of processing. It’s something the industry has dealt with for 10 years or more, Kyllo said.
“Consumers are drinking less milk,” she said. “It’s just not economically feasible to operate a plant” in Duluth.
Kyllo said farmers in the region shouldn’t see a drop in demand from the company. Kemps will now have two processing plants in Minnesota — Minneapolis and Rochester — along with those in Fargo, N.D., and Milwaukee.