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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Lawyer: Future of Suiza Dairy rests with union, federal court

By The Star Staff

The future of Suiza Dairy rests on the employees unionized under the Puerto Rican Workers Central accepting the economic situation that keeps the company in monthly losses of $3 million and in which the federal court orders the Dairy Industry Regulation Office to increase the price of milk, said Ángel Muñoz Noya, a labor lawyer for Suiza, earlier this week.

“At the moment, it is very difficult to think about how we can solve this situation,” Muñoz Noya said at a press conference. “We invite the union to reconsider and accept Suiza Dairy’s word to wait six months to see what happens with the company and the availability then to review the medical plan.”

The union is threatening a strike, which Muñoz Noya said would mean the workers would have to accept additional losses on top of the $3 million monthly losses currently experienced by the company.

Regarding the additional losses that a strike would bring, the lawyer estimated at $1 million the cost of confiscating the milk that is still in the facilities and putting the processor in a position to resume operation. That does not include the sales losses and the captive market that likely would go to Suiza’s competitor, Vaqueria Tres Monjitas.

“So we’re talking about millions of dollars,” Muñoz Noya said. “That is why the company cannot continue to increase its operating costs when we are already losing $3 million a month.”

The lawyer insisted however that Suiza Dairy does not contemplate, for the moment, filing for bankruptcy or shutting down. He said the parent company, Grupo Gloria of Peru, is willing for now to absorb the loss of the business in Puerto Rico.

Regarding the layoffs of 45 employees, Muñoz Noya said they are due to the economic situation and the determination not to continue business with 900 small businesses to which Suiza distributes its products.

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