'Like a gut punch.' Nestle workers at 75-year-old Freehold factory rally to save hundreds of jobs

Nestle’s instant coffee factory in Freehold is the only coffee production company in the country with more than 200 union workers.

Lanette Espy and Jim Murdoch

Jun 20, 2023, 11:58 AM

Updated 358 days ago

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The future of more than 200 employees at Nestle's instant coffee factory in Freehold remains in doubt.
Union workers at the local plant held a rally on Tuesday to express their concern about the possibility of the factory shutting down.
“That’s the hard part. It's that being in limbo. You don't know what plans you can make, what arrangements you need to do, so everybody is just waiting for that and that's very hard," says Nestle safety technician Craig Slininger.
Slininger spent the last 26 years working at the facility. “It was really like a gut punch,” he says of hearing in May that the plant may close.
“It's been here 75 years," says Freehold Mayor Kevin Kane. "I personally worked here a couple summers when I was in college. It's a staple in the community. Not to mention, there’s 200 well-paying jobs that have residual effect on what happens here in this town.”
Teamsters Local 11 president Michael Curcio says Nestle makes a lot of money.
“They've always made a lot of money, and we are trying our best to convince them to keep the Nestle plant open,” Curcio said.
In May, talks were happening behind the scenes with union leaders and Nestle representatives at the center.
A spokesperson for Nestle says they are meeting with the union representing the Freehold factory Tuesday to further discuss the ongoing challenges facing the facility. They say some of the ongoing challenges are the age of the factory, limited operational flexibility and the inability to meet instant coffee demand in a cost-effective way.
“We appreciate the union’s willingness to discuss the situation, including the annual cost savings required to make continuing operations there viable for our business in the long term," a Nestle spokesperson said in a statement. “Our decision process has also included conversations with local Freehold officials and New Jersey government agencies. When this process concludes, our leadership team will make a final decision regarding the factory.”
The Nestle coffee factory in Freehold was built 75 years ago. This is the only coffee production company in the country with more than 200 union workers. Nestle says the factory is outdated and limited on what it can produce.
Although no final decision has been reached, Nestle tells News 12 New Jersey that one option would be to close the plant and move production of the instant coffee to its global network.


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