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Dec 15, 2008

All 632 Invista workers receive layoff notices

All 632 Invista workers at the company’s Waynesboro plant have received notice that they could be laid off Feb. 8, according to federally required documents filed by the fibers manufacturer with the state.

That figure is three times higher than the 210 layoffs announced by the company last week. Invista spokeswoman Jodie Stutzman said today that because the company has not identified specifically which workers will be laid off, it included all employees in the notice. The company has said an undisclosed number of contract workers also will be laid off as part of a plan to idle nylon production.

“While we can’t estimate the exact number of contractors, we can tell you that the combination of employees and contractors to remain at the site will still exceed 500,” Stutzman said. “We’re still not sure just what those proportions will be.”

Invista began the year with 1,100 company and contract workers at its plant on the South River, making it the city’s largest employer.

The Mundy Companies, a Houston-based industry services firm contracted by Invista, notified 137 workers Dec. 5 of layoffs, according to state records. Invista filed its notice Tuesday.

Under federal law, an employer must file a written warning notice with employees or their union representative 60 days in advance of a plant closing or mass layoff. A mass layoff is defined as the reduction of at least 33 percent of a company’s workforce.

A layoff of 210 workers calculates to 33.7 percent of Invista’s 623 company employees. The law also requires notices to be provided to state and local government.

“Everybody had to receive a warn notice, because, as I said before, staffing plans haven’t been finalized,” Stutzman said.

Invista has idled and restarted operations in the past, Stutzman said. The idling of nylon production in Waynesboro is “intended to be temporary,” she said.

Warning letters filed with the state sometimes do not list specific layoff data, said Willie Blanton, the manager of the State Dislocated Worker unit, the Virginia agency that receives layoff notices.

“We get some instances where there’s uncertainty on the absolute number and they tell us that in the letter,” Blanton said.

Some layoffs, he said, do not materialize.

“We don’t know up front,” Blanton said. “There are no definitives to us except for what they tell you in the letter.“
Companies that break federal layoff notification laws are liable for back pay and benefits for workers for the duration of the violation, up to 60 days. Employers also may face $500 fines for each day of the violation.

Notification laws took effect under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act in 1989.

The law says company notices must provide the location where a closing or mass layoff will occur, a statement as to whether it is a plant closing or a mass layoff and the expected date of first separation and the number of affected employees in each job classification.

Companies must file a warning notice with the highest-ranking locally elected official in addition to workers and the state.

Source : NewsVirginian
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