Union, ConAgra reach agreement on severance package

After two days of bargaining NCFO Chapter 266 announced this morning that it reached agreement with ConAgra Wednesday evening over the impact of the scheduled closing of the Carriage House facilities in Fredonia by the end of this year.

“We still strongly believe that the closing of this profitable plant was unwise, unnecessary and cold, but I am glad to report that we have achieved two of the three goals of our campaign for dignity and justice,” said Chapter 266 President Tom Dickerson. “There is a fair severance package for our 425 members and their families and ConAgra has agreed to allow the sale of the Dunkirk and Fredonia factories without restrictions.

Previously, the company had insisted that the factories could not be purchased by another firm going into food production. This reversal – along with a $50,000 New York state grant from Governor Andrew Cuomo to fund a feasibility study for returning the facilities to productive use – makes it more likely that good jobs can return to the area soon.

Union officials credited the outpouring of support from local business, civic, labor religious and political leaders, culminating in a May 29 rally in Fredonia’s Barker Common, with making the difference.

Moreover, it led to a greatly enhanced severance package.

“I’ve seen what they gave after other plant closings were announced and this one is much, much better and would not have been offered without the campaign and the rally,” added Dickerson, who noted that the details will be presented to members at a series of union meetings Friday and Saturday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

“There are numerous people to thank because this community and Chautauqua County really came together on this,” Dickerson explained. “The Western New York Area Labor Federation headed by Richard Lipsitz, and especially Whitney Yax who pulled everything together for us, and the help we got from other unions and from elected officials like Fredonia Mayor Steve Keefe, Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan, Congressman Tom Reed and Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a big difference.”