Hy-Vee, the West Des Moines-based grocer, confirmed to Axios and KCCI on Wednesday that it was laying off employees, but the company didn’t specify which departments or how many people lost their jobs.
The grocery store chain told Axios the people they laid off were hired for “COVID-related projects” that are no longer needed while KCCI shared this statement from Hy-Vee spokesperson Tina Pothoff:
“Like every company, our employee needs ebb and flow to match our business,” Pothoff said. “In the midst of COVID-19, we had to significantly increase our projects across our business. With those projects launched, we have to make sure we remain focused on our stores and providing the best value and quality to our customers.”
Last week, a tipster told Starting Line Hy-Vee was doing “massive corporate layoffs.” The tipster alleged it impacted half the customer care team, the private label team, and up to 100 people in the IT departments. Other reporting and discussions on an Iowa Reddit thread backs up the idea that the IT center based in Grimes was particularly hard hit, though the number of employees let go isn’t known.
Starting Line contacted another Hy-Vee spokesperson last week, who said she would look into it but she did not follow up. Starting Line also contacted the city of West Des Moines on March 16 to see if it received a Federal Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act from Hy-Vee. This request was also unmet.
Iowa companies with 25 or more employees are required to provide a notice to Iowa Workforce Development, but the state’s WARN notice website does not show any recent Hy-Vee layoffs.
Several former Hy-Vee employees took to LinkedIn to share their dismay over the situation.
Caitlin Barnes, a former senior graphic designer, posted that “half her team was laid off.”
“Completely unexpected, and abrupt,” she wrote. “ It was truly one of the most bizarre experiences I’ve gone through in my creative career.”
Melanie McKee, another ex-employee and a senior software engineer, wrote that she walked off the job out of solidarity with her co-workers who lost their jobs. She said it was not an easy decision to make because she’s “fiercely loyal” to her fellow engineers, but in her heart, she knew it was the right decision.
“That fierce loyalty also extends to my coworkers that were abruptly let go on Monday,” McKee wrote. “They were given no notice, no chance to say goodbye, and ushered out like cattle. People that brought their best, every day, and poured their time and energy into this company. They deserved the bare minimum of being treated with dignity and respect.
“Hy-Vee is a business. I understand that layoffs are sometimes unavoidable,” she continued. “But the way you treat people matters. It says everything about who you are as a company. And unfortunately, Hy-Vee has shown us exactly who they are: at their very core lies something broken and rotten.”
Also on Wednesday, both chambers of the Iowa Legislature voted to further restrict unemployment insurance in Iowa, including reducing the length of benefits from 26 weeks to 16 weeks. Reducing Iowans ability to collect unemployment has been a legislative priority for Gov. Kim Reynolds, who said during her 2022 Condition of the State the unemployment system went from being a “safety net” to a “hammock.”
If you have additional information on Hy-Vee’s layoffs, feel free to reach out to us at Ty@IowaStartingLine.com.
by Ty Rushing
Iowa Starting Line is part of an independent news network and focuses on how state and national decisions impact Iowans’ daily lives. We rely on your financial support to keep our stories free for all to read. You can contribute to us here. Also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
6 Comments on "Hy-Vee Confirms Layoffs, Some Clues Point To Impacted Departments"
What’s interesting is that this occurs at the same time that Hy-Vee is expanding into new states.
we have a hyvee where i live they are an over priced grocery store sadly ive taken alot of my shopping to aldis& walmart!
About 5 years ago I was an overnight manager for 10 years. I was abruptly changed to stocker. At 62 I had COPD and took early retirement. There’s no job security at Hy-Vee only corporate profit.
HyVee is not the HyVee of years gone by. This comes at the very same time HyVee has been advertising for help on the local stations in Des Moines to the point of making one crazy, using a slick commercial. This is the same HyVee Corp. that has some hotshot British Indy Race Driver telling every one about HyVee quality, probably some dude that has never spent a day in Iowa or the Midwest. He needs to head to Knoxville and drive some sprint cars and then we’ll see how hotshot he is. Anyway again HyVee who is all about the bottom line, needs to make some cuts in its marketing including dropping its Indy Cars..
We have HyVee here too. Nicknamed (Hy-price-Vee). Don’t shop there anymore unless a last resort.
After the pandemic really started in Iowa, and Hy-Vee made it clear that customer safety was not a top priority for their business, I stopped shopping there. I won’t return. Stories like this, and stories about their efforts to weaken or kill the bottle bill, just make it easier to stay away.