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Alliance One losing 565 seasonal jobs

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By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Friday, November 9, 2018

A tobacco processing company with historic roots in Pitt County is consolidating its operations in Wilson County, resulting in the layoff of 565 workers on Jan. 7, according to a notice filed with the state Division of Workforce Development.

Pyxus International, formerly known as Alliance One International, announced it was closing its processing operations in Farmville earlier this week.

The employees who are being laid off are seasonal workers, according to the notice, which also said many will be on paid leave of absence from early December until Jan. 7.

More than 300 of the affected employees are classified as “general labor” or “picker/sweeper.”

“The Farmville facility isn’t shutting down, it is being repurposed,” said Samantha Santana, Pyxus International regional communications manager. “It will be used for storage and special projects.”

The effect on Farmville is unclear at this time, said Mayor Bobby Evans.

“We certainly hate to lose a company, the production and also the people who go with it,” Evans said. “It’s going to be a significant impact but how much we won’t know until we get further down the road.”

Evans said he was disappointed when he learned about the layoffs.

“The original company (AC Monk and Company) was born in the town of Farmville and has been here more than 100 years,” Evans said. “I believe Farmville offers a lot to Alliance One or Pyxus. I think we made a significant contribution and I hope they haven’t gone in this unadvised.”

Evans said he has been told that the consolidation will allow Wilson to add an additional shift to its production facility there. Evans said he was told the Wilson facility will have job opportunities for the laid off workers but how many is unknown.

“As we consolidate our operations between Farmville and Wilson over the next several months we will be working with our employees to identify as many job transfer opportunities as possible,” said an Alliance One spokeswoman. “While we know there will be a reduction in the number of positions in Farmville, as we repurpose the facility we are not able to provide greater details at this stage in the transition.”

A spokesman with the Division of WorkForce Development said the agency’s Rapid Response services, which helps employees update or write resumes, provide financial planning workshops and other services to help people find jobs, will be available for employees.

Pyxus International is based in Morrisville. The announced layoffs came alongside dismal financial results for the second quarter of 2018, according to North Carolina Business News Wire, a service of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Media and Journalism.

Its net loss rose to $54.6 million or $6.04 per share for the quarter, compared to net income of $1 million, or 11 cents per share in the same quarter a year ago.

In announcing the layoffs the company cited increased tobacco tariffs and declining demand for exports as reasons for the facility consolidation, according to NC Business News Wire.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.

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