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Sunshine Mills fires maintenance staff / April 12, 2010
Sunshine Mills, in Halifax, terminated 14 employees on Thursday after the Alabama-based pet food maker made the decision to contract out the work previously performed by its maintenance staff. Affected employees were notified of their terminations during a 7:30 a.m. meeting as the work day began.

The employees reported to work at 7 a.m. and were notified of the company’s decision at 7:30, according to affected workers. It was during which time they were told of the company’s decision to make the change. At that time those terminated were told to leave the facility immediately, saying they could return at 10:30 a.m. to pick up their personal belongings.

A call to Sunshine Mills’ headquarters in Red Bay, Ala. brought forth a response from the company’s Chief Operations Officer Royal Witcher, who confirmed on Friday that the company had made “a reduction in its work force.” Witcher would not comment on the number of employees who were terminated, nor would he comment on any severance package which the company might offer those terminated.

Employees who lost their jobs said they have been offered a severance package on the condition that they agree not to bring legal action against the company nor have any negative comment about Sunshine Mills, according to a source who asked not to be named. Workers have 45 days to decide whether or not they will sign the agreement and receive their severance packages. Some said the issue of their insurance coverage was not responded to and they still do not know the status of that insurance.

Affected employees claimed years of service at the Halifax mill ranging from five to 20 years, according to sources.

According to their website, Sunshine Pet Food is one of the leading producers of high quality pet food and treats in the United States, selling a variety of products throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico plus over 30 other countries world wide. The company employs 500 workers at three locations. Dollar sales for the current year are estimated between $150-$200 million.

The layoffs at Sunshine come after the Virginia Employment Commission reported last week than Halifax County’s jobless rate stood at 13.4 percent in February, nearly twice the state average. The Sunshine Mills layoffs are not accounted for in the VEC’s latest reporting.

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I just want to add that there was a day when Sunshine Mills, Inc. was a great company.... The day that Fred Junior Bostick ean it. The day that his son, Alan Bostick, took over was the day that Sunshine Mills died. Alan and his "management" team should hold some ownership in the eventual ultimate demise and deaths of others.... Yet, narcissism will never allow such humility or even self reflection.

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