Esskay calling 63 back to produce holiday hams

October 10, 1992|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Staff Writer

As city and state officials continued to work with Esskay to prevent the closing of the Baltimore meat packing operation, the company said yesterday that it will recall 63 of the 85 workers it laid off Oct. 2.

"Hopefully, we can keep them working through the holidays," said Esskay spokesman David B. McLaughlin.

The recalled workers, who report to work on Monday, are returning because of increased production of "bone-in" hams for the the holiday season, he said.

Despite the recalls, Esskay's parent company, Smithfield Foods Inc., still plans to stop production in Baltimore by the end of the year.

"It's still on that track, and we are still exploring options," Mr. McLaughlin said.

Another 60 to 70 people may be laid off Oct. 23 when the plant shuts down its bacon operation, he said.

Smithfield announced Sept. 30 that it would phase out production at the 72-year-old Esskay plant at 3800 E. Baltimore St. because of structural problems discovered while doing studies for plant expansion.

During that same week, the company shut down the plant's production of prepared hams and laid off 85 people.

The day after the announcement, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, along with other city, state and union officials, meet with Esskay executives in an effort to find an alternative Baltimore plant for the operation. Esskay has about 385 workers.

Spokesmen for the Baltimore Development Corp. and the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development said talks with Esskay are continuing.

Officials of Local 27 of the United Food and Commercial Workers were not available for comment yesterday.

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