The Union County Development Board will work with other agencies to assist the 183 employees of Timken’s Tyger River plant whose jobs will be eliminated as the company transfers some of its production lines to other facilities.
Located at 408 Industrial Park Road, Union, the Tyger River plant currently employs a workforce of 465 in the production of thrust and large-bore bearings greater than 24 inches in size as well as smaller bearings. On Thursday, Timken announced that it would shift the production lines for the smaller bearings from the Tyger River plant to other facilities in the Carolinas and overseas.
In announcing the decision, the company stated that moving the smaller bearings production lines to other facilities is designed to make the Tyger River plant “competitive for years to come. These actions are designed to focus production on a narrower, but key product line. Thrust and large-bore bearings are utilized in markets including metals, mining, oil and gas and wind energy.”
The announcement also stated that the “production of smaller bearings accounts for approximately one-third of the plant’s current output and the movement of these lines from Tyger River will result in comparable reductions in staffing at the plant.” These “comparable reductions” will mean the elimination of 183 jobs or 37 percent of the plant’s current workforce once the transfer of the production lines is completed. The first to feel the impact will be the plant’s 60 temporary workers whose jobs will be phased out by the end of 2012.
The company expects the plant’s full-time staff to remain intact through the remainder of 2012, but as the production lines are transferred over the course of 2013, a total of 123 jobs will be eliminated by the end of the year. The eliminations will include 110 operative and 13 salaried positions. Employees at the plant were informed of the company’s decision at a Thursday staff meeting.
Even as it prepares to phase out their jobs at the Tyger River plant, Timken is taking steps to assist the workers who will be displaced. In response to an inquiry by The Union Daily Times, a company spokesman stated that “qualified associates will be encouraged to apply for open positions at other Timken facilities.” In addition, the company has been in contact with the Union County Development Board about the impending changes.
“We expect our full-time workforce to remain largely intact for the remainder of 2012. When these impacts begin to take effect in 2013, we have committed to provide 60 days notice of associates’ last day. In addition, we have already been in contact with the Union County Development Board to make them aware of the change at Tyger River and to begin the dialogue about what opportunities may be available for affected associates elsewhere in the county.”
Development Board Executive Director Andrena Powell-Baker said Friday that her office is more than willing to work with Timken and government agencies and educational institutions wherever feasible to assist the Timken associates in preparing for and finding new employment.
“We never want to hear of a layoff by one of our local companies; but when it does happen, there are immediate services and support available locally and at the state level to support their re-employment efforts,” Powell-Baker said. “We will do everything possible to support the SCWorks teams and the Advanced Technology Center as they work in collaboration to assist those who are being affected.”
Powell-Baker pointed out that their background in manufacturing will make the displaced Timken workers attractive to both new and existing companies looking to hire trained, experienced personnel.
“The other side of the equation is that many of Timken’s employees have been in the manufacturing workforce for a number of years and they possess great skills and good work ethic,” Powell-Baker said. “These three things are attractive to existing and new employers in Union and the surrounding area. Having this type of available talent pool right here in the community is an advantage in light of the recent expansion announcement by Gestamp and the new industry announcements by Belk and Gonvauto.”
Powell-Baker also urged the Timken employees whose jobs will be phased out over the next 17 months to take advantage of all local educational opportunities and workforce services that can help them prepare for and find a new job.
“Also, since the layoff will be in phases, there will be some time to help the impacted employees equip themselves with the necessary skills and upgrades to make their job search more successful,” Powell-Baker said. “I encourage each Timken employee who will be affected by the decision to take full advantage of all the job search counseling, and training services that will be made available to them over the coming weeks and months. The development board office will proactively work with the company, SCWorks and the Advanced Technology Center to offer re-training opportunities that will help them become more ready for future employment.”