Dole Food Co. to layoff over 400 Watsonville workers as doors close

WATSONVILLE, Calif. - Over 400 Dole workers in Watsonville will be losing their positions.

Dole Spokesman William Goldfield tells us Dole Berry Co., made the decision to close strawberry growing operations located in Watsonville. 

A little over 400 people, will be terminated. The majority of the layoffs will be for 268 unionized pickers, but this includes drivers, other laborers and even supervisors from cooling and harvesting operations.

In a statement, Goldfield says, "These actions continue the strategic review of the company's current production levels and forecast projections and are part of an ongoing initiative to evaluate all berry operations to ensure they remain aligned with our growth objectives and position Dole to remain competitive in the market place."

Though Dole still holds the title as the largest fresh fruit company in the world, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company is over $1 billion in debt.

Goldfield adds, “Reducing our workforce of dedicated employees and closing facilities are among the most difficult decisions we make, but in light of increasing production costs, as an example, these actions are necessary for the future of our business and will position Dole to better serve our customers with the highest quality berries that they have come to expect.” 

The closure is said to happen by the end of October, however there is no word on what tenant will take over.

Thursday, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) issued the following statement in response to Dole Berry Company’s announcement that they are closing their Watsonville, California facility, eliminating over 400 jobs:


“My primary concern is for the well-being of the affected workers and their families, who will need support and assistance as the Dole facility closes its doors. I have contacted U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, requesting that he personally and carefully consider workers’ applications should additional resources and federal services be needed. As Congress works to pass federal spending bills this week, I will continue to advocate for strong investment in Workforce Innovation and Opportunity programs, which provide job search, education, and training activities for individuals to secure new jobs. I am committed to working with the Santa Cruz County Workforce Development Board so that all workers are aware of job training and placement opportunities, as well as other support available, during this difficult time.”

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