Pennacchio blasts Conagra over layoffs at former Pinnacle sites

State Sen. Joe Pennacchio criticized Conagra Foods, which bought Parsippany-based Pinnacle Foods earlier this year, for announcing layoffs during the holiday season.

Pennacchio (R-Montville), whose district includes the township of Parsippany-Troy Hills, said in a news release Monday that the layoffs at the former Pinnacle headquarters and another facility in Cherry Hill were “gutless and soulless.”

Conagra said it was closing the two sites and that some 500 jobs in the state are in jeopardy as it transfers office operations from Pinnacle to its own headquarters in Chicago and elsewhere in the Midwest. The company had said some employees would be eligible for transfer to those sites.

“I have one thing to say to Conagra — shame on you,” Pennacchio said in a news release. “Announcing layoffs two weeks before Christmas is a gutless and soulless thing to do.”

Conagra finalized its purchase of Pinnacle in October.

“They knew exactly what they were doing,” Pennacchio said. “They couldn’t care less about the hundreds of people who have spent years working in Parsippany.”

A Conagra spokesperson reiterated to ROI-NJ that many of the layoffs would take place several months into 2019, not during the holiday period.

“Most of the job impacts will begin in the spring and go throughout 2019,” the spokesperson said. “We began these discussions with employees in these offices in October and committed to meeting with everyone in December to discuss how changes in the business world would impact positions. Last week, we had individual conversations with employees to inform them of the specific impacts to their positions. We are committed to treating all employees with respect by providing as much advance notice as possible and transition support.”

The spokesperson did not immediately react to Pennacchio’s comments.

Pennacchio also criticized Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat.

“I am a strong supporter of the business community, but I’ll always put my constituents first,” he said. “There is no denying that Gov. Murphy’s bad-for-business agenda is forcing companies out of state, but, to be clear, that’s not what happened here. Conagra knew what they were getting into. It seems like they bought Pinnacle just to make a quick buck. That is shameful.”

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