Whirlpool Fridge-Plant Layoff Widens

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Fort Smith, Ark. - Whirlpool has expanded its planned layoff of refrigerator factory workers here this fall.

According to an email sent last week by Whirlpool spokesperson Jill Saletta to The City Wire, a local community paper, the first round of layoffs, announced late last year, will begin in October following the shutdown of counter-depth refrigerator production at the plant.

A second, previously unannounced round of layoffs is expected in November "due to softening of demand, which is typical at this time of year," Saletta wrote.

Whirlpool didn't say how many workers would be affected by the actions, but local TV station KFSM-TV projected the number of pink slips at between 600 and 1,000.

Whirlpool, the world's largest appliance maker, has been consolidating its manufacturing base in an aggressive effort to cut costs and boost profitability amid a deep majap industry downturn. Most recently, the company announced plans in June to close a laundry component machining facility at corporate headquarters in Benton Harbor, Mich., resulting in the loss of 216 jobs late this year or early in 2011.


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