Tyson to proceed with plans to add 370 jobs at Green Forest plant

Friday, July 11, 2008

GREEN FOREST -- Tyson Foods is proceeding with plans to add approximately 370 new production jobs at the company's poultry processing plant in Green Forest, company officials announced Thursday. The project, which involves the addition of chicken deboning operations, will include a new wage structure and other initiatives designed to attract and retain workers.

Tyson will spend approximately $11 million to install deboning production lines in the Green Forest plant this summer. Hiring for the deboning jobs will begin this month, training will start in late July or early August, and regular deboning operations will begin this fall.

"This project is designed to improve the operational efficiency of our Green Forest plant," said Tracy Tedder, complex manager of the Green Forest-Berryville Poultry Complex. "Instead of shipping fresh chicken to other plants for deboning, we'll do the work on-site. This will reduce our shipping expenses and should result in improved product yield. The new jobs are expected to add about $15 million a year to our local payroll."

In an effort to fill the new positions, Tyson is offering starting pay of $12 an hour for deboning workers with top pay reaching $13.50. As with other production jobs in the plant, team members who work the night shift can earn an additional 40 cents per hour. Job benefits include health, dental, vision and prescription drug insurance, paid vacations and holidays, a 401(k) retirement savings program and a stock purchase plan. People with interest in the positions may apply at Tyson's Complex Employment Office (next to the Dollar Tree Store) in Berryville, or call (870) 423-5440 for additional information.

Tyson is also boosting the pay for other hourly jobs at the Green Forest and Berryville plants. Effective July 20, general production workers at both locations will earn $10.50 an hour and will have the potential to make as much as $11.50 an hour. Maintenance workers will be paid between $11.40 and $17.20 an hour.

In addition, the company is offering bonuses to current Team Members who help recruit others to work at the Green Forest or Berryville plants. They can earn $600 for each eligible new worker they recruit and will be paid after the new recruit has been employed for 90 days.

Tyson is exploring the possibility of providing bus transportation for workers to and from Huntsville and Harrison. Company officials have also been in discussions with developers about the need for new, affordable housing in the Berryville and Green Forest areas.

"We've given extensive thought to this project and are taking measures to help ensure it's successful," said Tedder. "In addition to compensation changes, recruiting bonuses and possible help with transportation, we're also stepping up our training efforts."

The Green Forest plant will designate certain Team Members as "Xperts@Work," who are trained in all facets of the various deboning jobs. They will fill daily vacancies and join lead production workers and assistant hourly trainers in helping new workers succeed on the job.

Tyson's Green Forest operations currently employ 1,200 Team Members. The processing plant, which slaughters about one million birds per week, recently converted operations to handle a larger bird. In an effort to help meet growing demand for boneless, white meat, Tyson invested $17 million to modify production equipment to handle an eight pound bird, which yields more breast meat. The plant currently has three processing lines and four partially-fried chicken lines. Products include breaded chicken fillets, chicken fries and spicy chicken patties.

The company's Berryville operations provide jobs for 1,300 Team Members. The processing facility includes nine fully cooked chicken production lines that produce more than 3.2 million pounds of fully cooked chicken each week. Products include such items as buffalo wings and breaded chicken strips, grilled chicken patties, and other retail and food service products.

The current estimated annual economic benefit of Tyson's Berryville-Green Forest operations to the local area is more than $118 million. This includes the annual payroll, payments to contract chicken producers, and the payment of property taxes and utilities.

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