More layoffs hit Newton’s plant

More layoffs hit Newton’s plant
 
Date April 28, 2006
Section(s) Local News
Brief  
 
By PETER HUSSMANN

Editor

Sixty-five production workers at Whirlpool’s Maytag plant in Newton will be laid off today in an adjustment of production levels due to market demand, Whirlpool officials said.

Jody Lau, manager of global communications at Whirlpool, said the layoff is in response to changing market demand for the Maytag products manufactured in Newton.

Lau would not give the total employment level at the plant after today’s layoff or the years of service of those impacted by the move. Production levels have dropped significantly since nearly 2,600 people were employed at the Newton plant just a few years ago. Local estimates put the number employed now below 1,000.

Lau also said Whirlpool is beginning to make adjustments to Maytag‘s salaried workforce in Newton as part of its integration process. She said Whirlpool is “beginning discussions” with Maytag employees on their future with the corporation. Some, she said, are being offered positions with Whirlpool while others are being notified of their transitional status with Whirlpool and some being notified of their separation date. She would not state the number of individuals who have been notified of their status.

A decision on the future of the Newton plant will be made in the coming weeks.

Jeff Noel, Whirlpool’s vice president of corporate communications and public affairs, said all Maytag plant operations are undergoing an evaluation process that will determine their future in the integrated company.

“We are currently evaluating all former Maytag operations, including those in Iowa, against the same standards governing each of Whirlpool’s operations,” he said. “Evaluations are based on overall competitiveness within the global home appliance industry, including the ability to manage process improvements, productivity and operations efficiency.”

Prior to its sale, Maytag officials said its Newton plant was its highest cost operation.

Whirlpool has 26 manufacturing and technology centers in the U.S. and, including Maytag plants, nearly 60 around the world. Besides the U.S., Whirlpool has production operations in Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Italy, China and India, Lau said.

When Whirlpool acquired Maytag on March 31, the company said it would make decisions on future Maytag operations within 30 to 60 days. Whirlpool has scheduled a conference call with members of the investment community on May 23 to discuss the Maytag integration process.

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