Stunned Morrell employees plan for what's ahead - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Stunned Morrell employees plan for what's ahead

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -- Many John Morrell workers had planned to stay with the company, and in Sioux City, until retirement. But the company's announcement to pull out of Sioux City means a change of plans.

In a city built around the meat packing industry, John Morrell employees were shocked to find out that their plant will close. Even though many knew the company was considering downsizing, they never thought it would happen in Sioux City.

"Not this plant. This plant's always been so profitable over the years that nobody ever thought it was going to be this plant," said John Morrell employee Dennis Biederman.

A John Morrell employee for nearly three decades, Biederman says the announcement largely came without warning.

"Why didn't they tell me prior to this? We didn't even have a clue that this was even coming," Biederman said.

Though there had been chatter of a Morrell closure inside the plant, Biederman says he and other plant longtime workers were reassuring newer employees that Sioux City would be safe.

"They have some other plants in some other states. We thought maybe it might be a different one. But we didn't think it was going to be this one or Sioux Falls," Biederman says.

A lifelong Siouxlander, Biederman hopes to stay in Sioux City. But for some, that may not be an option.

"I like it in Sioux City. But if I don't find a new job, I'll need to move," says ten-year employee Luis Caragoca.

For Caragoca and other employees with a family to take care of, picking up and leaving is more than just finding a new job.

"We have a house and cars and (our) family's right here. So I don't know what happens in the next three months," Caragoca said.

While it's tough to put a silver lining on more than one-thousand people losing their jobs, some employees see opportunity.

"I hope I learn to be a teacher with the music," says Exquio Mora.

"I probably would like to get some re-training. I'd like to do something different," Dennis Biederman said.

Hopefully something different can mean something better.

"This job has ended," Biederman says. "What am I going to do next?"

While John Morrell employees will feel the most loss, the closure will have a ripple effect throughout the region. Many local companies do business with Morrell, whether it be mechanical, or selling livestock to the facility, making for a major economic loss for all of Siouxland.

Online Reporter: Zach Tecklenburg

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