Fewer layoffs at Freightliner than expected

  • Posted: Friday, March 22, 2013 12:59 a.m.

CLEVELAND — Half as many workers at the Freightliner plant in Cleveland will lose their jobs as expected, parent company Daimler Trucks North America announced Thursday.

About 340 people at the Cleveland plant will be laid off on April 8, down from 715 potential layoffs announced by Daimler in January.

Overall, Daimler will cut about 600 jobs at truck manufacturing plants in Cleveland and Portland, Ore. Daimler had announced 1,300 potential layoffs at four facilities.

No layoffs will occur at the Gastonia components and logistics plant and the Mount Holly truck manufacturing plant.  

As previously announced, the suspension of the second shift at the Portland plant reduced its workforce by about 230 workers.

Although the heavy truck industry is still performing below optimal levels, new orders and industry-leading market share gains have enabled Daimler to reduce layoffs, a company spokesman said.

Daimler expects that market conditions will improve throughout 2013, and workers in Cleveland could be recalled if orders increase.

“Our flexible, highly scalable manufacturing operations will be ready to recall workers impacted by the layoff if conditions continue to improve,” spokesman David Giroux said.

Despite slower economic and freight growth this year, Daimler’s outlook is driven by the extreme age of the truck population in North America, Giroux said. The average age of class 8 trucks is beyond their normal operational lifecycle.

Daimler is well-positioned to capitalize on aging equipment replacement needs with the new Freightliner Cascadia Evolution that has been proven to be the industry’s new benchmark in fuel efficiency and performance, he said.

The Freightliner Cascadia Evolution, which is manufactured in Cleveland, passed the 10,000-order threshold after less than a year in production, the company said this week at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.

In January, Daimler announced it was notifying approximately 1,300 production workers across the company’s North American manufacturing facilities of a potential layoff in compliance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.  

The action was taken due to the softening of economic conditions that adversely impacted the entire North American commercial vehicle industry at the end of 2012.

When the potential job cuts were announced, several employees told the Post they were suspicious the company was using the layoff to negotiate lower wages with the union. Daimler’s three-year contract with United Auto Workers Local 3520 is up for renewal this month.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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