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Uncertainty Clouds Food Maker’s Corporate Staff

August 19, 1987

RYE BROOK, N.Y. (AP) _ Employees at General Food Corp.’s lavish headquarters remained stunned Wednesday, a day after the giant food company announced it would shed most of its corporate staff to stay competitive.

″It’s as if the neutron bomb dropped,″ said one upper level manager who has worked for the company for more than 25 years. ″The building remains, but the people are gone. General Foods as we know it won’t be here any more,″ the manager added, requesting anonymity.

″It’s like having the floor pulled out from under you,″ said Anita Cassar, a three-year veteran of the company’s treasurer’s office. ″It seems like somebody died, the way people are acting.″

The layoff announcement came Tuesday in a news release and in a staff bulletin that said General Foods’ three operating companies - General Foods USA, General Foods Coffee & International and Oscar Mayer Foods - would become separate operating companies.

As a result, the release said, ″minimal staff will be maintained at the corporate level″ of General Foods.

The company’s corporate workforce includes about 2,000 people. General Foods officials said there were no plans to close any buildings, including the eight-floor corporate headquarters located on a stretch of more than 50 acres.

In its in-house bulletin to workers, General Foods said: ″We encouraged our managers to be more results oriented. And we understood that our costs would have to come down to insure we operate more efficiently than our competitors.″ The memo discussed how the company had to ″eliminate redundancies in the organization.″

Employees were particularly worried about which positions would be eliminated and when the job cuts would be made. General Foods has not yet announced a timetable, but company officials said they anticipated pink slips would be out by October in order to plan the 1988 budget.

A 10-year word processing veteran said the announcement was ″like being hit with a hammer from behind. You just don’t know if you’re going to have a job.″

General Foods, which was acquired by Philip Morris Companies, Inc., makes brand-name products including Jell-O, Kool-Aid, Post cereals, Birds Eye frozen foods and Maxwell House, Yuban, Sanka and Brim coffees.

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