Written by The Business Journal Staff
Coca Cola announced yesterday it will close its Dinuba Odwalla production plant in April.
Up to 164 regular, full-time employees are expected to lose their jobs in the plant closure as the company shifts production to another packaging facility in Riverside County, according to published reports.
“The Dinuba facility will cease operations on April 18,” wrote Nancy Limon, Coca Cola’s director of public affairs and communications, in a so-called WARN letter (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) sent to California and Tulare County Workforce Division personnel as well as Dinuba Mayor Emilio Morales and Tulare County Supervisor Steve Worthley.
“We are committed to treating every employee with respect and dignity throughout this process,” Limon stated. “We also remain fully dedicated to the Dinuba community, our local customers and consumers.”
Dinuba Odwalla plant employees, who will be laid off in six waves between March and May, will be eligible to apply for other positions within Coca Cola. But Limon said there will be no “bumping” or “relocation” rights.
Workers at the 65,000-square-foot Dinuba Odwalla plant, built in 1994, do not belong to a union.
According to its website, Odwalla was founded by “a couple of musicians in Santa Cruz in 1980.” Coca Cola purchased the company in 2001 for $181 million.
In 1996, an outbreak of E. coli linked to Odwalla apple juice produced at the Dinuba Odwalla plant sickened dozens and caused the death of a 16-month-old Colorado baby. The company began flash-pasteurizing its juice products after the outbreak and eventually paid a $1.5 million fine as a result of the incident.