Freightliner parent announcing layoffs

  • Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 12:54 a.m.

CLEVELAND — Workers at the Freightliner truck manufacturing plant in Cleveland are facing possible layoffs.

The company that owns Freightliner truck manufacturing began Tuesday telling employees at its plants across the country they could lose their jobs.

Company officials held a meeting Tuesday afternoon with workers in Cleveland.

A spokesman for Portland, Ore.-based Daimler Trucks North America would not provide specifics, including the number of people who could be laid off.

The company released a statement saying it was “in the process of notifying production workers across DTNA’s North American manufacturing facilities of a potential layoff in compliance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.”

The company said it would release more information Thursday.

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires employers to notify the state when they plan to lay off more than 500 workers or a third of their workforce. No notice was listed on the state Commerce Department website on Tuesday.

About 2,100 people work at the Cleveland plant. Another 2,900 work at Daimler plants in Gastonia and Mount Holly, according to the Gaston Gazette.

Corey Hill, president of the United Auto Workers chapter that represents workers at the Cleveland plant, said he couldn’t comment on the potential layoffs or confirm numbers because nothing has been made official.

“We just haven’t received anything. The details have to come from the front office,” he said.

If the layoffs are deep — around 700 jobs in Cleveland alone, according to reports — it would represent a stark reversal from a year ago when Daimler announced it was restarting a second shift in Cleveland and adding jobs at other plants to meet increasing demand for its products in the U.S. and elsewhere.

At a January 2012 event attended by then-Gov. Bev Perdue, Daimler announced it would add 1,100 jobs at its Cleveland plant. Previously laid-off workers would be recalled first, the company said.

Later in the year, Daimler acknowledged only half those jobs had been filled, saying projected demand for its trucks “had not materialized.”

In September, the company announced it would close its plants for several days due to an “industry-wide slowdown in truck orders.”

But the company sounded a more positive note earlier this month when it told the Cleveland town board the plant would start producing natural gas-powered trucks.

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