Silver lining behind pink slips?

By Erica Quednau |, Anthony Antoine |

Published 04/23 2014 04:37PM

Updated 04/28 2014 12:11PM

Latest: 10:05 pm, 4/25/14, Friday
SULLIVAN -- A local trucking company hopes Kraft's loss is its gain. An employee at Marvin Keller Trucking saw WCIA-3's Facebook post about Kraft laying off truck drivers, so she decided to help them and her company at the same time. WCIA-3's Erica Quednau explains.

It's a job which can take its toll on a person.

"Even though we're home every weekend, you're still away from your family. You're dealing with the environment, so it's a tough job."

At Marvin Keller, their job is to deliver truckloads of materials for Fortune 500 companies. It's something which takes experience.

"Finding good, experienced drivers is difficult. Yes, we are hiring. We could immediately probably fill ten jobs."

That's where Facebook comes in.

"I think it's a great opportunity to take advantage of social media."

"I'm sure the guys from Kraft are reading these posts, so let's try to get the word out that we do have jobs available here."

Brandi White is a recruiter for Marvin Keller and a driver manager. She saw the post on the WCIA-3 Facebook page and decided she could help.

"It's an unfortunate situation, but you know, we have job openings, so I thought, 'Why not?'"

So far, some of the drivers from Kraft are excited about the new possibility.

"I had a guy give me a list of what qualifications he had and things like that. We need our trucks full, so, yeah, it's a win-win for both situations."

"We want to keep the jobs in Illinois if we can and if we can help some of the drivers up in the Champaign area, we'd love to do that."

Marvin Keller is looking for drivers with CDL licenses.
Latest: 4:17 pm, 4/25/14, Friday
SULLIVAN -- An area trucking company is looking to hire more workers. Thursday, Kraft announced it's laying off its truck drivers. After hearing the news, Marvin Keller Trucking wanted to help.

A worker reached out to those losing their jobs on Facebook and asked if they'd come work for her company. Leaders are looking for drivers with Class A CDL licenses. So far, a few people from Kraft have already responded to the offer.

For more information, click here or call (800) 752 - 0342 and ask for the recruiting department.
Update: 4:33 pm, 4/24/14, Thursday
CHAMPAIGN -- Truck drivers for Kraft got news they were expecting, but definitely not wanting Thursday. They were told they'll be let go starting in June.

All were called to a meeting at Urbana's Holiday Inn. That's where they were told the news. The workers weren't allowed to talk on camera, but some seemed in good spirits after getting the news.

They were all carrying letters which laid out the plan to discontinue using Kraft's private fleet of trucks and drivers. The letter states Kraft plans to use existing carriers and other commercial carriers to handle deliveries from here on out, but the transition will occur in phases.

Some drivers will be let go as soon as June, others, like those based in Champaign, won't be let go until September. The letter explains this has nothing to do with employee performance which company leaders say has been excellent. Rather, it has to do with factors beyond control of the drivers.

Phone calls to Kraft were not returned.
Original: 4:37 pm, 4/23/14, Wednesday
CHAMPAIGN -- Truck drivers at Kraft are afraid they might be getting pink slips. Drivers say the future of the transportation department is unclear and it could all come to a head Thursday.

Kraft would only respond, "It's our policy not to comment on rumors or speculation." The Holiday Inn has a meeting space reserved for Kraft Thursday afternoon. One driver says he and his colleagues were notified of the meeting a few days ago. About 60 drivers will attend.

The Champaign plant is Kraft's largest; both in terms of square footage and volume of products made. About 130 trucks go in and out every day. The plant employs nearly 1,200 people. Kraft spends about $100 million annually on salaries and benefits locally. 

It produces various products including Kraft dinners, Velveeta, Kraft Singles, Miracle Whip and some salad dressings. Last year, Kraft consolidated its Velveeta business, creating 39 new jobs.

Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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