PATTERSON (CBS13) – The city of Patterson was dealt a big blow as pink slips handed out to nearly 600 workers at a Patterson vegetable plant.

But there is hope that those jobs might be able to be saved.

The Patterson Vegetable Company has been around 70 years and is a landmark in this city. They gave out layoff notices, and now hundreds of employees are wondering what they’re going to do next.

This is one of Patterson’s very first large businesses. The vegetable processing and freezing plant has been around since the 1940’s.

New owners bought the place four years ago and it may already be on the verge of shutting down.

“Everybody’s got houses and house payments. What happens when this shuts down? It’s gonna hurt them. It’s gonna hurt a lot of people,” said Ramiro Garcia, a former employee.

About 300 full-time and another 300 seasonal workers got layoff notices late last year.

The company’s management tells CBS13 they asked all employees to take pay cuts, but the union denied it. The company now says it’s waiting for the bank to decide its next move.

“Any time there are potential imminent layoffs, they have to issue those letters,” said Patterson City Manager Rod Butler.

The loss of Patterson’s largest private employer would be a huge blow to a city that already has high unemployment and high home foreclosures.

“The blow of losing those jobs is gonna be significantly felt not just by the company or by those employees, but entire local economy will be affected,” said Jeannette who works at the Canchola Taqueria El Mexicano. “It obviously affects sales. It’s been slowing down a lot over past year.”

If another 600 people are let go, their prospects remain bleak.

“Where would they look for a job?” said Ramiro

The only hope in sight, the city says, is a new Super Wal-Mart that promises to add 300 jobs.

The farmers will also have to figure out what to do with her vegetables. There’s only one other processing plant like this in the nearby city of Newman, and the county says it’s a lot smaller.

The company and union leaders will meet again, but if no agreement is made, its doors might be closed by February 20th.