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State officials investigate abrupt closure of Golden Guernsey dairy


WAUKESHA, WI (WTAQ) - State officials are trying to find out why the Golden Guernsey dairy plant in Waukesha closed on Saturday, with only a day’s notice to just over 100 employees.

The state’s plant closing law requires a 60 day notice unless there are emergency circumstances. The Workforce Development agency says the Los Angeles investment firm that owns the plant had not responded to the state’s inquiries as of Monday.

Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson called the abrupt shutdown “particularly troubling.” He ordered a Rapid Response team to hold sessions in Pewaukee on January 16th and 17th to tell the affected workers what kinds of assistance are available to them.

Officials said the workers might be able to recover up to 60 days of pay from the company.

Open Gate Capital bought the Waukesha dairy plant early last year, after the government ordered Dean Foods to sell it due to antitrust concerns.

Mark Stephenson of the UW-Madison Center for Dairy Profitability said the plant operated in a fiercely competitive industry with thin profit margins. And U.S. milk beverage sales were at their lowest last year since 1984, due to changes in consumer habits and new beverages that include sport drinks.

The Golden Guernsey shutdown put about 360 southeast Wisconsin schools in a pickle at first, because they’re required to offer milk as part of the Federal School Lunch Program. But their supplier managed to have Kemps provide milk to the schools, so their service is not interrupted.