Workers demand answers after dairy plant shuts down

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WAUKESHA -- More than 100 workers at the Golden Guernsey plant in Waukesha are demanding answers after the plant was unexpectedly shut down on Saturday, January 5th.

Employees spent Monday afternoon in the Golden Guernsey parking lot. They hoped their former employer would let them in to get their belongings.

Across the street, milk distributor Al Gruenwald pointed to the trailer his employer, Lasky’s Service, used during its partnership with Golden Guernsey.

“I was scheduled to work Saturday morning. Got here about 8 in the morning and they had security there and they said 'you’re not allowed in.' I saw the plant manager and asked him what happened and they said they shut the plant down,” said Gruenwald.

The shutdown also came as a surprise to state officials. Wisconsin requires large employers to provide a 60-day written notice when it plans to execute a mass layoff. The plant’s owner, a Los Angeles investment firm, told no one — not state officials, employees, or the union.

Gruenwald is upset with the firm. But he says someone else shares even more of the blame — the federal government. He says the government forced Dean Foods to sell Golden Guernsey in 2011 in an effort to “restore competition” among school milk providers in Wisconsin and Illinois.

“Sometimes the government, maybe I don’t know a whole lot, but I believe sometimes the government shouldn’t get involved in certain things,” said Gruenwald.

The U.S. Department of Justice says it has no comment, at least for now.

FOX6 News left multiple messages with the L.A.-based company, OpenGate Capital and never got a response.

The state Department of Workforce Development is planning workshops to specifically help the Golden Guernsey employees find work.

The DWD and its regional workforce partner, the Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington (WOW) Workforce Development, Inc., have scheduled Rapid Response orientation sessions for affected workers in the WOW region on Wednesday, January 16, and Thursday, January 17, at the WOW Workforce Development, Inc., offices at the Workforce Development Center, 892 Main Street, Suite A, Pewaukee.

Affected workers are asked to pre-register by calling 262-695-8041.

The Rapid Response services are part of the DWD-administered Dislocated Worker Program, which serves workers who become dislocated when a business cuts positions or ceases operations entirely. The goal is to help them find work at new jobs that pay as well or better than their previous employment.

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