TWIN FALLS • Greek yogurt giant Chobani Inc. is laying off temporary and some regular employees at its local plant.
“It’s a tough day and a half,” a company spokesman said Tuesday. “We take this very seriously.
“There is no larger story,” he said, staving off rumors to the contrary. “Chobani is far from being in trouble. ... When we first came to Twin Falls, we hired temporary employees as we ramped up the plant. It’s normal to hire temporary employees for temporary work.”
More than three-quarters of those laid off are temporary workers, the spokesman said. He declined to say how many people lost their jobs.
Barrett Business Services Inc. and Elwood Staffing, both of Twin Falls, provide temporary workers for Chobani.
“...After a thorough and comprehensive review of our business, we made the very difficult but necessary decision to operate our plant at its original design and eliminate certain positions...” a Chobani statement said.
The plant is not reducing production, the spokesman said.
Initially, Chobani had predicted it would need 400 employees to operate the plant and more to build it.
The plant’s total staff “is still well beyond” that initial estimate, the spokesman said.
City spokesman Joshua Palmer said Chobani has met the minimum community block grant requirements of the Idaho Department of Commerce.
Jan Roeser, regional economist with the state Department of Labor, estimates that Chobani employs 500 to 1,000 workers.
Layoffs aren’t unusual in food processing, Roeser said.
“It’s still not good news for those on the receiving end,” she said. “But there are a lot more opportunities here now than when Chobani first opened.”
Marcus Lutz, branch manager at Gem State Staffing in Twin Falls, told the Times-News in March that the valley had seen an increase in temporary jobs, due to the local economy and new industries such as Chobani moving into the area.
“It’s not quite doubled, but we definitely have seen things pick up from where they were,” Lutz said at the time.
Brandon Line, placement supervisor at Personnel Plus in Twin Falls, said the need for temporary workers is high.
“Anytime there is construction, like road work or the new Culver’s, temporary work is always up,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chobani continues to be a major employer in south-central Idaho.
“Twin Falls remains vitally important to us, and we will continue to invest in our facility and support the local community,” the Chobani statement said.
Shift changes also are planned at the plant, the spokesman said. Instead of two 12-hour shifts seven days a week, Chobani’s production workers will operate three eight-hour shifts five days a week.