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Hundreds of Sweet'N Low Workers to Lose Jobs as Plant Stops Manufacturing

By Alexandra Leon | January 12, 2016 8:51am
 Fort Greene's Cumberland Packing, which packages Sweet'N Low, said it would transition out of the manufacturing business within the next year.
Fort Greene's Cumberland Packing, which packages Sweet'N Low, said it would transition out of the manufacturing business within the next year.
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FORT GREENE — Hundreds of local workers will lose their jobs after Cumberland Packing announced it would cease manufacturing operations at its Flushing Avenue plant Friday.

The company, which produces Sweet’N Low, said it will transition out of the packing and manufacturing business within the next year and outsource work to other “co-packing” facilities that manufacture goods for several companies at once.

Cumberland, which has been in Brooklyn for more than 60 years, said it will keep its headquarters in Fort Greene and instead focus on product development, marketing, distribution and sales.

The family-owned company said it would help workers find new jobs following the transition.

“I have seen the company my parents started to grow over the last 60 years, and now we’re taking every measure possible to do right by the people who have given Cumberland their time and talents,” company chairman Marvin Eisenstadt said in a statement.

Yet the union that represents 320 workers at the Sweet’N Low plant said the company never mentioned it was thinking of moving manufacturing out of Brooklyn, even in the midst of contract negotiations with the union, according to Politico, which first reported the story.

“They never brought it up once,” UFCW Local 2013 President Louis Mark Carotenuto told Politico. “And that’s what really annoyed us.”

The announcement comes as the city’s food manufacturing sector continues to grow, after seeing a net gain of 1,000 jobs in the industry between 2011 and 2014, according to the Center for an Urban Future.

Yet, it’s also the sector that pays the lowest wages, according to the data.

Most of the unionized workers at Sweet’N Low make less than $15 an hour, according to Politico.