Tyson Foods' decision to close its Virginia chicken plant shocks the community: 'It's very sad'

Posted at 5:28 PM, Mar 14, 2023

GLEN ALLEN, Va. — M.D. Hossain has worked at Glen Allen Fast Food, off Mountain Road in Glen Allen, for 15 years.

He serves breakfast and lunch at the gas station and convenience shop.

“I like egg and cheese, that’s my favorite,” Hossain said with a grin.

Over the years he has gotten to know some of the shop's regulars. Many of them work at Tyson Foods' chicken processing plant, just a half-mile up the road.

"The whole Tyson crew, they’ll come for lunch,” Hossain said.

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On Monday, he learned the plant would close in May. The employees, his regulars, would be jobless.

“I feel so bad. I’m so sad to hear that," he said. "We love this crew and the very cool people working there. We are going to miss them.”

Plant employees also found out Monday that the plant was set to close on May 12.

The plant had been in operation in Glen Allen since the 1960s but was not owned by Tyson the entire time.

A Tyson spokesperson said the closure was part of a companywide strategy to streamline their operations.

The Glen Allen plant is one of two the company plans to close in the coming months. You can read more on the why here.

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“While the decision was not easy, it reflects our broader strategy to strengthen our poultry business by optimizing operations and utilizing the full available capacity at each plant,” Tyson Foods said in a statement to CBS 6.

A worker at the Glen Allen facility told CBS 6 off camera that losing their job is of course disappointing, but they seemed resigned to the idea it was out of their hands.

The union representing the nearly 700 workers at the Tyson plant said in a statement Monday this was no way to treat workers coming out of the pandemic and that the union did not get any warning that the layoffs were imminent.

“These men and women risked their lives and the safety of their families to keep this plant operational during the pandemic, and this is the thanks they get? This is not how we show gratitude to essential workers in Virginia,” said Mark Federici, President of UFCW Local 400.

The plant was built in Hanover County in 1964.

Hanover officials sent a statement to CBS 6 focused on the workers who will lose their jobs in May:

“Hanover County was notified yesterday that a valued member of our business community, Tyson Foods, will be closing its doors. This is truly disappointing as we have enjoyed a successful partnership for decades. Our primary concern is for the hundreds of talented workers who will lose their jobs. We are committed to ensuring they get the assistance they need to find new employment. The County will partner with the Department of Economic Development and the Virginia Employment Commission’s Rapid Response Team to connect displaced workers with the resources they need during this difficult transition.”

Tyson Foods said they plan to work with local and state officials to help laid-off workers find employment. Tyson said it would help Glen Allen workers find work at other Tyson facilities as well.

“It’s not sad, it’s very sad,” said Hossain at Glen Allen Fast Food. “I pray for everyone. Hopefully, they’ll get a better opportunity once they get out from there. That’s the only thing. I’m praying for them.”

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