Esskay, the financially troubled Baltimore meatpacker that announced earlier this month that it planned to shut down its processing facilities and move to Indianapolis, now plans to remain in Baltimore, union officials said yesterday.
Company officials are expected to make a statement today, the Associated Press reported.
Attempts to reach Esskay officials yesterday were unsuccessful.
When the company announced Feb. 1 that it planned to move to Indianapolis within two to three months, it said that all the details had not yet been worked out. The company said it was forced to move because it could not get the financing it needed to build a new plant in Baltimore. Esskay and the city tried to put together a financing package that included $3 million in federal money, $3 million in state and city money and $9.2 million in industrial revenue bonds. The unions, for their part, extended their contracts and stretched out scheduled raises for five more years.
But city and company officials could not find a bank to buy the industrial revenue bonds, because Esskay had been losing money steadily over the last few years and because the outlook for the entire meatpacking industry has not been good.
Without the industrial revenue bonds, the federal government would not approve its proposed part of the package -- a $3 billion urban development action grant. The city and state were willing to provide $3 million in loans and guarantees.
Esskay, the second-biggest pork processer in the area, had said it would lay off about 460 of its 630 employes during the next two to three months.
The company has been losing money, officials said, because its 1920-vintage plant was so outdated. The meatpacking industry works on thin profit margins and Esskay officials said the move to Indianapolis -- to a vacant processing plant and nonunionized workers -- would restore the company to profitability within 60 days of startup.
The 126-year-old company -- a Baltimore fixture -- lost $1.86 million in 1984 and $600,000 in 1983. Even with the union concessions, Esskay said it would continue to lose money unless it could build a new facility.
According to Associated Press, a union official said rank-and-file members were told at a meeting yesterday that the company would remain in Baltimore. No other details were available.
When Esskay said it intended to move its processing plant to Indianapolis, it said it would keep sales, marketing and distribution personnel in Baltimore.