February 21, 2009

Pa. Hershey plant closes doors

A Hershey Co. plant that made York Peppermint Patties and Jolly Rancher hard candies closed its doors Friday as the company transferred production to Mexico.

The plant had operated in Reading since 1986. Its closing meant the loss of 252 jobs, The (Harrisburg, Pa.) Patriot-News reported Friday.

Some of the employees being thrown out of work by the change told the newspaper they appreciated getting a year-and-a-half notice the plant was closing, and said the company had given them a fair severance package.

However, the newspaper said there are indications of backlash in Reading, with some residents blaming the North American Free Trade Agreement for encouraging the company to move jobs from the United States to Mexico. Some said they would stop buying Hershey Co. products to protest the move.

While declining to talk about the plant's operation, Hershey spokesman Kirk D. Saville did say the company appreciated the professionalism of its employees, The Patriot-News said.

This change was difficult for all of us, but was necessary to ensure the long-term competitiveness of our company, Saville said.