PROSSER — Zirkle Fruit Co. will close its apple-packing operation in Prosser, which will lead to about 300 workers losing jobs starting in October, the company said Tuesday in a written statement.

The company said it is closing the operation to improve efficiency and better respond to customer and industry requests.

“Maintaining and continually modifying multiple apple packing operations has been a difficult task,” the company said in its statement.

Zirkle will consolidate its apple packing operation at its Selah facility.

The Prosser facility will remain open year-round, primarily serving the company’s winery operations. Zirkle will also use it to store bulk fruit.

The company will continue to pack and ship cherries there, generating about 300 seasonal positions.

In Prosser, the company will do a series of layoffs as it winds down its apple packing activity. The first of those layoffs, which will impact 95 workers, will occur between Oct. 17 and Oct. 30. The company said it will announce dates for subsequent layoffs later.

The company has already sent notice to the state Employment Security Department. Employers with at least 100 employees and/or at least 50 employees in a single location must notify the state Employment Security Department about a mass layoff at least 60 days before a plant closure.

The advance notice allows state employment agencies and job training organizations to guide employees through the job hunt or training process in the months leading up to the layoff.

Zirkle is also examining internal opportunities for laid-off employees.

“We are now doing everything in our power to be there for the impacted employees with as many resources as possible during this difficult transition,” the company wrote.

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