“Plant management (at Whirlpool Fort Smith Division) has confirmed that they anticipate some layoffs to take place in October and November,” according to a prepared statement by Jill Saletta, director of External Communications for Whirlpool Corporation whose headquarters are located in Benton Harbor, Mich.
The layoffs were previously announced to plant employees.
Whirlpool has not identified how many jobs will be lost.
“The October layoffs are due to the end of production of counter-depth refrigerators at the plant which we announced to employees at the end of 2009,” Saletta said. “November layoffs are anticipated due to softening of demand which is typical at this time of year.”
According to published reports by the Associated Press, employee numbers at the Fort Smith facility have steadily dropped since 2006 when the work force totaled as many as 4,600 employees. At the start of this year, the plant had about 1,000 employees although Whirlpool at the time was in the process of calling back 400 workers.
The AP report said some of the Fort Smith layoffs over the past few years have been due to the Whirlpool decision to move work to a factory in Mexico previously done in the Arkansas plant. It pointed out the ongoing recession has weakened demand for major home appliances.
Locally, the Whirlpool Cleveland Division plant manufactures cooking products, and specifically wall ovens, cooktops, slide-in ranges and the popular Maytag Gemini double-oven freestanding range. This year, the Cleveland facility began production of a second-generation Gemini featuring a larger oven capacity. The original Maytag Gemini was launched in 1999 and has been a hot seller ever since.
The Gemini is now manufactured under three Whirlpool family brands — Maytag, Whirlpool and KitchenAid.
Along with the manufacturing plant, Whirlpool operates in Cleveland a call center (Whirlpool Cleveland Customer eXperience Center) on 20th Street and an engineering/tech center (Whirlpool Cleveland Cooking Technology Center) which is housed in the manufacturing complex on King Edward Avenue.
Totaled, Whirlpool employs about 2,000 workers in Cleveland in the manufacturing plant, call center and tech center.
The Cleveland operations became a part of Whirlpool in March 2006 when the company acquired the former Maytag Corporation. Whirlpool Cleveland maintains two manufacturing facilities — Plant 1 (East Plant and West Plant), which is the former Maytag and Magic Chef factory building on King Edward Avenue; and Plant 2, formerly the Hardwick Stove factory that was purchased by Maytag in the early 1980s.