MOUNT VERNON — Decreased consumer spending and cutbacks at the national level have left local companies struggling to find ways to cope. Looking for options, several companies have turned to cutting back production in order to avoid layoffs.
“There is still no plan for layoffs,” said Zane Mathys, executive vice president for FT Precision.
However, for the month of January, he said two Fridays will be scheduled down, with no production at all. Associates will not be paid for those days; however, if they choose, they can use vacation time and be paid.
“The other two Fridays we will have production down, but we are [also] going to provide work for training purposes. Everything else will be running a normal schedule in the production department. We are a three-shift operation. We have some areas that are one shift, but most are three shift.”
FT Precision makes parts for Honda of America.
“Things are in a state of flux in the industry,” said John Wilkerson, senior communication manager for TRW corporate headquarters. “Certainly there has been a lot of announcements from Chrysler, GM, and even Ford on cutbacks in productions in the first quarter. Obviously, the number of people that come back will depend on how much work there is beginning on the 12th of January.”
Wilkerson said staffing levels will depend on how much customer demand there is for parts.
“I don’t have the exact calibration how many people and when things will be back to more normal work flow at the plant,” he said. “If you look in general at some of the announcements from Chrysler saying they were going to go down for a month, I believe, for most of their plants, and GM saying they were going to idle 20 plants for part of the first quarter, they will indicate that there is definitely a lot less production, particularly early in the year, than what we normally see.”
According to Wilkerson, in years past, there has been a steady flow of production, but it is normal for the company to fluctuate depending upon the customer demand.
“We are always looking at the level of demand. It is like any other type of business; we are making product based on what the demand is. In our case, we are not selling directly to the consumer, but the demand comes from those that do.
“It is just that demand is a lot lower right now than it normally would be.”
No responses were received from other local manufacturing companies. A representative of Jeld-Wen, a local window and door manufacture company, would not speak of rumored layoffs, and only said, “no comments at this time.” Calls to AMG Industries and Sanoh of America were not returned by press time.
According to Roger Shooter, director of Knox County Job & Family Services, companies with 100 or more employees are required by the Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification Act to notify the state, 60 days in advance, of any layoffs of more than 50 employees.
However, this is not enforced, he said, so many companies do not abide by the law.
“A great many companies don’t file a WARN notice for a number of reasons, and the only way to enforce it is for the workers or representatives to go through the United States District courts,” he said.