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Toshiba to cut 300 jobs
Nov 04, 2005 12:00 am
November 1, 2005
Toshiba America plans to cut its Lebanon work force by nearly 300 employees because of its decision to stop producing specific types of televisions, becoming the second local manufacturer to reveal a major layoff in recent days.
Toshiba's plans are the apparent result of a company decision to stop manufacturing rear-end projection and plasma TV sets, dealing the second major blow to the local job market in recent days.
Earlier, officials confirmed aerospace industry manufacturer Parker Seals plans to cut more than 100 workers loose from its Lebanon manufacturing facility over the next year and a half.
Toshiba – which opened its Lebanon manufacturing facility to great fanfare in the late 1970s – alerted the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development of its plans in a letter dated Monday, Oct. 31.
A copy of the letter obtained by The Lebanon Democrat indicated the company intends to layoff 60 employees at the Lebanon facility "on or about" Dec. 31.
"This layoff is a result of Toshiba's decision to discontinue production of CRT rear projection televisions," Chet Dilley, vice president of human resources at the company's Lebanon plant, wrote. " … Toshiba expects these layoffs to be permanent."
Roughly one month later, "on or about" Jan. 31, the company will lay off an addition 219 employees as a result of Toshiba's decision to discontinue producing plasma televisions at the Lebanon plant which, Dilley noted, began "on a temporary basis" several months ago.
"Production of plasma televisions is expected to continue at the Lebanon facility until all plasma television components stored at the Lebanon facility are used, so the first employee separations associated with this layoff may begin as early as January 31, 2006, but the separations of all 219 employees included in this layoff may not be completed until several months later," Dilley's letter continued, adding the second round of layoffs are expected to be permanent.
Lebanon Mayor Don Fox, who recently returned from Tokyo where he met with Toshiba officials, estimated the layoffs would reduce the company's local work force to roughly 500.
Fox added he considers even a single layoff to be "very traumatic."
However, the mayor noted Dilley's letter specifically states Toshiba has "no plans" to close the Lebanon plant.
"That's very important to me because the rumor has been for several months, actually years, that they would relocate the entire plant to Mexico, and that actually is not the case," Fox said.
According to Dilley's letter, employees affected by the layoffs "will not have the right to take another employee's job at Toshiba facilities in other geographic locations."
Dilley also noted the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) represents 54 of the 60 employees who are to be laid off in late December and all 219 employees who will be laid off in the weeks and months following Jan. 31.
A call to Robert Emery, business manager of Nashville's IBEW Local 429, was not returned Monday.
State Rep. Susan Lynn referred to Monday's announcement as "sad and disappointing." She added the impact of the planned layoffs will extend far beyond Wilson County.
About 32,000 people travel into Wilson County from surrounding areas to work each day, Lynn explained.
"When you have layoffs going on at companies like Toshiba, it will not only impact Wilson County. It does impact the surrounding counties, and it's very sad and disappointing to see something like this happen," she said. " … Hopefully, it's only temporary, and Toshiba will be able to employ some new equipment to produce a product that people want to buy because the television industry is changing."
Fox echoed Lynn's remarks, adding Dilley's letter indicates the Lebanon plant will continue manufacturing rear projection televisions that use Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology.
"It gives me encouragement that, if the DLPs go well, that they could be putting in another line," he said. "They'd certainly have the room to put the DLP lines in there, so this doesn't say in any way that there won't be expansion for that technology. If there is, then there's hope."
A call to Toshiba America Consumer Products spokesperson Tina Tuccillo was not returned Monday.
The confirmation of the looming layoffs came four days after Parker Seals – which makes O-rings for the aerospace industry – announced plans to cut 105 jobs over the next 18 months in what one official termed a "phased" layoff.
Staff Writer Brian Harville can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 16 or by e-mail at email@example.com.