Baldwin County’s largest manufacturer laid off more than 200 employees today, Lagniappe confirmed late this evening. According to Senior Manager of External Communications Jessica Napoli, the Collins Aerospace facility in Foley, which employed as many as 1,200 people at the beginning of this year, “indefinitely furloughed” approximately 20 percent of its workforce.
Although the total number of affected employees was not provided, more were informed they would keep their jobs, but were asked to take an additional 15 unpaid furlough days. Last month, the company imposed a worldwide pay cut to its salaried employees and required hourly employees to take 15 days of furlough during the remaining calendar year.
A subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, Collins’ Foley facility produces aircraft nacelles and is a major local supplier for Airbus.
“Collins Aerospace is making tough decisions to align our business with significantly reduced demand for commercial aviation products due to the impact of COVID-19,” Napoli offered in a statement. “To address this reduction in business, additional furloughs were announced today at the company’s facility in Foley, Alabama. This is a critical step to ensuring that Collins Aerospace emerges strong once this crisis is contained.”
In a letter to affected employees today signed by OEM General Manager Darrell Wilson, the company informed the furloughs were an attempt to “level-set” its workforce “to align with the reduced demand our customers are forecasting going forward.”
“While the challenges for the remainder of 2020 are severe, our workforce must also be ready to accommodate the rebound we anticipate beginning as we reach 2021,” the letter continued. “As a result, all employees who are not impacted by the indefinite furlough program will be asked to observe an additional 15-day furlough in 2020. This is in addition to the previously announced, Collins-wide 15-day furlough program.”
The letter continues, listing the scheduled furlough days and instructing employees on guidance for using vacation time or enrolling in the state’s unemployment program.
According to the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance (BCEDA), Collins Aerospace is the fourth-largest employer in the county behind the Baldwin County Board of Education, Walmart and Infirmary Health. In early April, BCEDA President and CEO Lee Lawson expressed concern Baldwin County may be hit harder than most by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, updated numbers from the Alabama Department of Labor indicated 25,720 people have filed unemployment claims in Baldwin County since March 21, which represents 26.8 percent of its civilian labor force.
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