Maytag sets more layoffs

Maytag sets more layoffs
 
Date August 19, 2005
Section(s) Local News
Brief  
 
(AP, Newton Daily News) — More layoffs are in store for Maytag Corp., a move that comes as the nation’s third largest appliance maker sits on the sale block.

The company plans to lay off another 200 workers at its flagship manufacturing operations in its hometown of Newton, a union official said Thursday.

“It’s sad to see your work force depleted . . . in a down, down spiral, and you just feel like you’re powerless,” said Ted Johnson, president of United Auto Workers Local 997, which represents Maytag production workers in Newton. Nearly all of them work in a factory that makes washers and dryers.

The layoffs take effect Sept. 6, the day after Labor Day. The move will leave about 1,000 production workers on the job, Johnson said.

He said in addition to the 200 layoffs, part of the plant will shut down next week for inventory adjustment. The action will idle about 350 workers, but only for one week.

Maytag spokesman John Daggett said the layoffs are in response to reduced consumer demand for washers and dryers made in Newton.

“The retail market is moving away from the products made in Newton,” he said. “We are adjusting our employment levels in response to the changing market demand.”

Last week, Maytag‘s board withdrew its recommendation of the pending $14 per share, or $1.13 billion, cash offer from Triton Acquisition Holding, a group of investment companies led by New York-based Ripplewood Holdings. Maytag notified Triton on Monday that it favored a Whirlpool Corp. offer of $21 a share, or $1.79 billion.

Maytag has postponed a meeting of shareholders from Aug. 30 to Sept. 9 to permit the company additional time to distribute proxy information.

Maytag‘s production work force in Newton was about 2,500 in 2002. The company, however, has trimmed the number in a series of layoffs, saying that Newton is its highest-cost plant and won’t be eligible to receive new product lines unless costs are reduced. Concessions production workers approved in a contract adopted after a three-week strike last summer were not enough to gain Newton a new product platform, company officials said.

Maytag is also reviewing its “manufacturing footprint,” saying a final decision could come within the next few months and may mean the closure of the Newton plant and another Maytag operation in North Canton, Ohio.

Without new product lines, Maytag has said, plant employment will decline over time as customers shift to new product lines and the demand drops for machines made in Newton.

The Newton production work force was estimated at about 1,355 earlier this year. Maytag doesn’t disclose work force numbers at its production and office locations.

Maytag stock closed Thursday at $18.70, down 6 cents from Wednesday’s close on the New York Stock Exchange. It was down another nickel in early trading today.

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