KFSM: Whirlpool Might Cut 270 Workers This Year

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Friday, Aug. 12, 2011 7:15 am  

KFSM-TV, Channel 5, reported Thursday that Whirlpool will cut nearly 300 hourly and salaried workers at its Fort Smith refrigerator plant this year.

(The full report is available here. See video of the report at the end of this story.)

The CBS affiliate reported a statement by Whirlpool that said it might lay off 250 hourly and 25 salaried employees before the end of the year as demand for the plant's side-by-side refrigerators wane.

"It was further communicated that this reduced volume, along with recent softening of the economy, could possibly result in layoffs of up to 250 hourly and 20 salaried employees at this location in the coming year," Whirlpool spokesman Kristine Vernier told the station.

"While no decisions have been finalized, we understand how difficult this information is during these uncertain times and strive to share information with our employees as we continue the planning process."

ArkansasBusiness.com reported July 27 that plant would likely cut 20-25 salaried positions this year. At the time, Vernier said the Fort Smith plant employed about 1,055 people, including 105 salaried and 950 hourly positions.

KFSM also talked to a Whirpool employee who said he'd been told the plant would completely shutter by July. Whirlpool said a decision to lay off workers had not been finalized, and Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders said Whirlpool will not shut down in July.

The layoffs would be the latest at the appliance-maker's Fort Smith plant, which has laid off and rehired workers as demand for its products rises and falls. The company had also shifted production of some of its Fort Smith products to a plant in Mexico.

As recently as 2007, Whirlpool was the ninth largest employer in Arkansas, with 4,200 employees in Fort Smith.





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