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Jan 21, 2009

Herman Miller wraps up last of 1,000 job cuts

Zeeland-based Herman Miller Inc. originally anticipated it would cut or lay off 400 to 650 positions but adjusted that number to 1,000 when more than expected applied for the voluntary separation agreement. The company is wrapping up the last 500 cuts this week, spokeswoman Susan Koole said.

“We’re hopeful that when conditions improve, we’ll be able to call back these workers,” Koole said.

By agreeing to the voluntary separation, employees received 50 percent more than the company’s standard severance package, which includes two weeks pay for every year of service, up to six months of severance. The severance package included benefits, placement services and counseling.

The cuts have been made through layoffs, buyouts or job elimination and included both salaried and manufacturing positions.

The cuts — announced Nov. 11 — are expected to save the company $60 million in annual expenses.

“It’s really a cost reduction effort to better align the business with current market conditions,” said Mark Schurman, director of corporate communications for Herman Miller, in November.

“Herman Miller is not immune to the current global economic slowdown,” CEO Brian Walker said in a prepared statement at the time.

The high-end office furniture company employs almost 4,000 in West Michigan and 6,000 globally. At its peak, Herman Miller employed 7,000 in West Michigan and 11,000 in total.

The bulk of Herman Miller’s manufacturing occurs in Zeeland, Holland and Spring Lake.

Source : HollandSentinel
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