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Hempstead horseradish maker Gold warns of 55 layoffs

A close-up of a bottle of Gold's horseradish

A close-up of a bottle of Gold's horseradish on March 22, 2011, in Hempstead. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

Gold Pure Food Products Co., the Hempstead company best known for its bottled horseradish, plans to lay off 55 employees on July 31, according to a regulatory notice posted Friday on the state Labor Department's website.

An official of a union that represents 35 Gold warehouse workers said the company filed an illegally short layoff notice and violated a union agreement by telling employees they were going to be terminated and had to reapply for nonunion jobs.

Under the state Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, companies with at least 50 full-time employees must file a 90-day notice of a planned closing or mass layoff, except in cases of "unforeseeable" economic hardships or natural disasters.

Gold's WARN notice cites an "asset purchase agreement" as the reason for the layoffs. When reached by phone, the co-owners declined to say if that meant the condiments company was being sold. Nor would they confirm how many workers they employ.

"I really can't give you too much information until the papers are signed," Steven Gold said.

But he stressed that manufacturing will continue at the site. And his brother Marc said that "there will be no jobs lost." They said they could provide more details next week.

Jerry Fasano, president of Teamsters Local 802, Bakery and Warehouse Division, in Baldwin, said the layoff notice angered him. He accused the company of "trying to circumvent the union."

He said he plans to file a complaint with the state Labor Department over the WARN notice and to challenge any contract breach.

A 2011 Newsday story said Gold had 70 employees. The 83-year-old former Brooklyn-based food manufacturer moved to Hemlock Street in Hempstead in 1993. The street was rechristened Brooklyn Road to avoid associating hemlock with a food company and to honor the company's roots.

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