ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. - A representative of the United Auto Workers Union told Channel 9 on Monday that the union received a notice that 936 people will be laid off from the Cleveland Freightliner plant in Rowan County.
The representative said the UAW received a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice dated Dec. 31.
The last day of work will be Friday, according to a statement from the company. The workforce adjustment will be effective March 5.
Employees told Channel 9 that the plant manager called for a meeting just as the shift began. A mother of two got a call from her husband after his shift ended.
"It's going to hurt a lot of people," Tezia Purefoy said.
Her husband started working at Freightliner last year. She works and they will get full-time pay from Freightliner through March, but she said it will be hard to find jobs that pay that well in the county.
"Hopefully, with a little bit of prayer, it will be OK," Purefoy said.
Daimler, which owns Freightliner, said 2015 was a good year for truck sales. They made the cuts because they expect 2016 to be slow.
Experts said truck buyers usually tighten their wallets during presidential election years.
This job was Tyler Flowers key to higher education. He took a year off from college to raise money for tuition. He hoped to get trained to qualify for a better job with Freightliner.
"I just hope it doesn't take long to get back," Flowers said.
Other jobs are also on the line. Operators at CJ's Barbecue said workers at the plant across the street account for more than half of their business. They are bracing for a big loss.
Union leaders said this will be the only plant in the area to see layoffs. The Gastonia plant and the Mt. Holly plant hired 600 workers last year.
David Giroux, director of corporate communication and public relations for Daimler Trucks North America, released the following statement:
"Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) provided Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (“WARN”) to plant employees and Bargaining Unit representatives regarding a planned reduction in force of approximately 936 workers at the Cleveland Truck Manufacturing Plant. This workforce adjustment will be effective on March 5, 2016; however, the impacted employees’ last day of work will be Friday, January 8, 2016. Employees will receive payment in lieu of the notice period at each employee’s regular rate of pay, and employees are free to seek and accept other employment during the notice period without jeopardizing their entitlement to the WARN period payment or benefits. DTNA’s WARN Act notification is due to a sustained reduction in orders and a diminished build rate and is considered temporary.
"The Cleveland Truck Manufacturing Plant is located in Cleveland, North Carolina and manufactures heavy-duty Freightliner and Western Star trucks. The facility presently employs approximately 3,100 workers, which will be reduced to approximately 2,200 after the temporary adjustment. DTNA is reducing output by one-third at the Cleveland Facility in anticipation of a softer North American truck market in 2016, which will be somewhat below the very strong market of 2015.
"DTNA has no further comment on the layoffs."
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