Meridian Star

Local News

August 5, 2008

Tower Automotive to lose half of employees

Tower Automotive will lay off 73 of its 144 employees, Lauderdale County Supervisor Ray Boswell said Tuesday.

Boswell said he received an official notice of lay off from the company this week, which he read to a reporter in a phone interview. The notice said that 12 press operators, two maintenance workers, four material handlers, 49 production technicians, four quality technicians, one shipping and receiving clerk, and one welding engineer will be let go.

Employees, the notice said, will be laid off based solely on date of hire and will remain on call back status for 12 months.

Joe Kirik, head of media relations for Tower's corporate office, declined to comment on the lay offs, saying: "Tower does not comment on any business or operational matters."

Tower Automotive is an auto parts plant located at Lauderdale County's South Industrial Park. It provides parts for the Nissan plants in Gluckstadt and Smyrna.

"Our work schedule is determined on a daily basis driven by forecasts from our customers," the notice read. Due to a reduction in sales forecast by Nissan effective Monday, Tower will need to produce fewer parts. In the notice, the plant blamed the lay offs on the poor economy and the nationwide dip in auto sales.

The plant's official opening was in June 2007.

"It's a short-term impact," East Mississippi Business Development Corp. President Wade Jones said Tuesday.

Jones said he believes the economy will revive in the long run, causing an increase in auto sales and thus an increase in production by Tower.

In the meantime, Jones said he is thankful for more stable forms of employment such as Naval Air Station Meridian and Meridian's three hospitals.

"We are very pleased with the $65 million investment that Tower has made here," Jones said.

Boswell took a less optimistic view, saying "In fact, I look for some more lay offs." He said Tower called him last week to inform him that 22 lay offs would be made, but that they increased the number between last week and this week.

Boswell said he believes it is important to inform people of the lay offs.

"It affects lives, so people need to know," Boswell said. "Everybody's important."

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