HANOVER TOWNSHIP — Workers at the Kraft Foods back office in Hanover Township have a tradition of loyalty and pride. Some have been in the same jobs since they were working for Nabisco.
When they learned that most of the 350 employees at their facility would soon be working for a contractor, Genpact, instead of the household name they were familiar with, they were concerned.
That worry turned to panic for some, when a Genpact bid form became public.
The form revealed a plan by Genpact to move some of the Kraft operations to the company’s facilities in India in 2015.
However a spokesperson for Genpact said that does not mean fewer local jobs.
An e-mail to Newswatch 16 said, “If Genpact decided to move work to another location, that doesn’t necessarily mean a loss in jobs. We have a growing business in Wilkes-Barre and across the U.S. that offers significant opportunities across hundreds of clients.”
A company spokesperson pointed to planned renovations at the facility on New Commerce Boulevard in anticipation of employing up to 600 people.
Spokesperson Gail Medford said, “Genpact is making a considerable investment to both renovate and significantly expand our Wilkes-Barre facility. We are adding capacity to accommodate the Kraft employees who will be joining Genpact and because we anticipate future growth. We are making renovations as part of a long-term investment in our Wilkes-Barre business.”
The company said except for a management team, it will offer work to the rest of the 350 people who currently work for Kraft.
However, several workers spoke to Newswatch 16 about their concerns.
The two women asked us to conceal their identities because they were told they were not allowed to speak to reporters.
They shared a number of concerns including benefits, work environment, and the loss of an employer they considered to be a cornerstone of the Wyoming Valley.
One said, “I don’t want to work for Genpact, I signed up for Kraft Foods 17 years ago, that is where I planned to retire.”
She said that Genpact does not offer the same vacation perks or retirement plan.
Another worker said she had been told that if workers do not accept job offers from Genpact, they will not be eligible for unemployment.
Despite that, the women expect that a significant number of the workers will not opt to work for Genpact.
The women pointed to a transition they said has been bungled, creating mistrust among the Kraft workforce.
“There were managers outside crying and apologizing to the employees for lying to them. Because they didn’t know they were lying to us, they were told to boost us up to go to Genpact.”
The women said for decades Kraft represented one of the best opportunities for a good wage in Luzerne County and wondered what the future holds.
Andy Reilly is executive director for the Luzerne County Office of Community Development.
“Everyone, the county, the Commonwealth, businesses, workers, are all attempting to understand the global economic reality, some of that involves new jobs going overseas, some of that involves new jobs coming here,” Reilly said.
The Genpact spokesperson said the upside is that their company is growing and that represents opportunity.