Blue Bell Creameries says it will lay off more than a third of its workforce following a series of listeria illnesses linked to its ice cream that prompted a total product recall.
The Texas company, whose production plants remain closed, released a statement Friday saying 750 full-time employees and 700 part-time workers are losing their jobs. That represents about 37 percent of the company's 3,900 employees.
Blue Bell, based in Brenham, says another 1,400 workers will be furloughed, and employees essential to the ongoing clean-up and repair efforts will continue working but have their pay reduced.
The layoffs come after the company signed agreements on Thursday with health officials in Texas and Oklahoma detailing steps the company will follow to resume production.
“The agonizing decision to lay off hundreds of our great workers and reduce hours and pay for others was the most difficult one I have had to make,” said Paul Kruse, Blue Bell's CEO and president. “At Blue Bell, our employees are part of our family, and we did everything we could to keep people on our payroll for as long as possible. At the same time, we have an obligation to do what is necessary to bring Blue Bell back and ensure its viability in the future. This is a sad day for all of us at Blue Bell, and for me personally."
Video: Blue Bell CEO Paul Kruse talks about the layoffs