‘It keeps me up at night’ | George’s Prepared Foods worker ponders next steps

Employees were told their last day on the job would be September 2, with options for additional bonuses or relocation on the table.
Employees were told their last day on the job would be September 2, with options for additional bonuses or relocation on the table.
Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 11:15 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Last week, one of Campbell County’s biggest employers told their workers they were shutting down.

According to Mayor E.L Morton, anywhere from 200 to 250 people will lose their jobs with the closing of George’s Prepared Foods on September 2. For Colby Mays, it’s a daunting feeling not knowing where his paycheck will come from in a matter of two months.

“It keeps me up at night thinking what am I going to do next,” said Mays.

As a husband and father of a two-year-old with another baby due in September, Mays is working until the last day possible so he can get a bonus from the company, which is a month’s salary. Money, he said, will be vital as he searches for a new job and cares for a newborn.

The paperwork given to employees on the day of the announcement stated that the company will give employees the option to move branches, which is not an option for Mays considering the closest destination would be three hours away in Virginia.

Since the news broke, Mays said he has seen more than 20 employees quit, leaving more work for those continuing to work at a place that produces thousands of pounds of beef and sausage a day. May worked his way up to line manager over his last four years at the job and said he could have seen himself working at George’s for the rest of his life with hopes of continuing to advance.

Although he considers many of his coworkers family and loves the job, Mays admitted that he has felt the workplace dynamic shift since the news came out that everyone would have to find a new job.

“Going to work, man, it’s just depressing, it’s not the same. Going in there knowing it’s not going to be open in two months, it’s almost like what’s the point? What are we working for right now?” said Mays.

Senior Vice President of George’s Food, Robert George, released the following statement about the decision to close the plant:

Assuring the long-term strength of George’s requires us to carefully consider how our individual business units are performing and to understand their growth potential. It is a challenging time to be in the prepared foods business, and we have been carefully evaluating how we navigate the volatility in beef and pork markets.

Robert George

Copyright 2022 WVLT. All rights reserved.