Community preps for waves of layoffs

West Liberty Foods set to eliminate 260 positions


West Liberty Foods is set to eliminate more than 260 positions at its West Liberty location beginning in late April. The turkey processing plant is the community’s largest employer.

“As a resident of this community, the decision to reduce production capacity in West Liberty was difficult and painful,” said Brandon Achen, president and chief executive officer of West Liberty Foods in an email.

“We value the contributions of all our team members and deeply regret the need for layoffs,” he said. “We are committed to connecting each affected person with new employment opportunities and support.”

The turkey meat processing plant currently employees 865 people in West Liberty and plays a pivotal role in the economic health and growth of West Liberty.

West Liberty Foods plans to eliminate 260 production jobs in West Liberty over the coming year by attrition and layoffs. The announced layoffs will primarily affect the West Liberty plant.

The company plans to reduce its ready-to-eat slicing operations and second shift log fabrication operation, moving the slicing operation to its facility in Bolingbrook, Ill.

However, it states that turkey harvesting and first-shift log fabrication operations in West Liberty will not be impacted, and that the company will continue to be headquartered in West Liberty.

Though none have happened yet, the layoffs will occur in four stages. The first round will begin April 29, with the additional stages happening in May, June and November.

According to West Liberty Foods, the move comes as a response to a rapid growth in demand for their ready-to-eat sandwiches, which are produced at the Bolingbrook plant.

It also states that it is working with all affected team members to identify reassignment opportunities within the company and will provide on-site reemployment and support services.

According to chief legal officer for West Liberty Foods, Dan Waters, laid off workers can request to transfer to other open positions anywhere in the company.

When asked about the possibility of adding jobs in the future: “We will increase hiring in West Liberty as necessary to keep up with customer orders,” he said.

In that vein, West Liberty Foods still plans to build a new turkey processing facility in West Liberty in the future.

More About West Liberty Foods

West Liberty Foods has locations in Iowa, Illinois and Utah. Currently they have 962 workers in the State of Iowa, 506 in Illinois and 529 in Utah.

The farmer-owned food company has been recognized as one of the top 50 protein processors in North America.

According to the National Provisioner, West Liberty Foods is the 34th largest meat and poultry processor in the United States.

The news comes after a series of layoffs last November when West Liberty Foods notified more than 50 workers that their positions would be eliminated at its various plants.

According to, 25 people were laid off in West Liberty, 17 people in Bolingbrook, III., and 12 people in Tremonton, Utah.

In 2023, West Liberty Foods closed its location in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, affecting 350 employees. Layoffs began in December 2022 until the plant closed in May 2023.

For Mount Pleasant, it was stated the facility was not meeting the needs of the company due to a reduction in demand for the product.

It was reported that West Liberty Foods offered Mount Pleasant workers the option to work at other locations and helped with relocation and transportation services. 

Currently, workers in West Liberty are not represented by a union, specifically the Davenport branch of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).

The City Council’s Response

City Councilmember Dana Dominguez raised her concern about the layoffs during the city council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 6, stating she’d like to meet with the president to better understand it.

“It looked like they were going to be providing some support to try and find other positions in the company for them and provide resume building and career development opportunities, which I appreciate,” she said.

“But I know it’s going to be absolutely devastating to a lot of families here in West Liberty,” added Dominguez.

“We met and talked about this before it was made public,” responded Mayor Mark Smith. “I’ve been in contact with workforce development.”

Iowa Workforce Development is a state agency committed to providing employment services for individual job seekers.

Through it, Iowans can file for unemployment benefits, register for work and build skills through their Adult Education and Literacy Programs

The department reports that Iowa’s unemployment rate is currently at 3.2 percent, with nearly 60,000 jobs open across the state.

As for West Liberty, the council approved two additional utility billing extensions for individuals affected by the layoffs, in addition to the one extension customers can use per year. 

That means a total of three extensions are available to employees laid off at West Liberty Foods, so long as they provide a proof of termination.

“It’s so we can help them maintain utilities, help them work through this difficult time in their life,” said Mayor Smith.

“Some may think that three is an excessive amount, but you don’t know what’s going to occur within a year of that person’s loss of their job,” added City Manager Lee Geertz.

As For West Liberty

It’s really too early to tell what sort of economic impact the layoffs will have on the City of West Liberty, considering the company still plans to run a full operation in the community.

“They truly do care about their employees, and this was not an easy decision for them to make,” says We Lead Director Ken Brooks, noting there is some good coming in the future.

“Moving into spring there are a number of companies that will be increasing their hiring in and around West Liberty, that should be able to absorb some of the available workforce,” he adds.

He notes that even now there are a number of job postings online and in storefronts in West Liberty, and he expects that to continue into the summer.

foods, layoff