GREENVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) - United Solar Ovonics laid off about 25 percent of its workforceat the company's Greenville facility Tuesday, a company spokesmanconfirmed to 24 Hour News 8.
Uni-Solar plant manager, Gary DiDio, confirms the company isexperiencing layoffs. He would not confirm numbers, but said it isdue to reduced demand for its products and they are forced todecrease production and production costs.
DiDio said these are difficult business decisions they have tomake but they hope to rebound in the near future and be in aposition to call back employees.
At an employee meeting that day, the man who asked to remainanonymous said management split workers into two groups: one groupconsisted of people who got to keep their jobs and the other groupwas laid off immediately.
"(In) the one room, everyone got to go back to work," he said."The other room got talked to about their severance package andthey turned in their badges and got sent home."
Eighty-nine production and support employees are now out of jobsjust weeks before the holidays. The man showed 24 Hour News 8 acopy of his severance package, which includes three weeks salary.Insurance benefits end Dec. 5 and he received a $10 Meijer giftcard, which he took as an insult.
"Two years of service (and) I get $10 while they're firing meand sending me out the door," he said.
The $10 Meijer gift cards, DiDio said were not part of theseverance package but given to terminated employees because theywould not be attending the holiday meal offered by the company.
Uni-Solar produces solar panels for power generators. Thecompany received tax incentives to move to Greenville and waspraised for filling part of the void left from the closing of theElectrolux plant.
But in recent months, Uni-Solar has cut workers' hours, citingslower demand for products. Even the employees who got to retaintheir jobs Tuesday will only work nine of 26 weeks throughJune.
Whether the worker was laid off was based on his or herexperience level and performance reviews, the man said.
Now, without a job, his future is uncertain.
"Basically, we relocated to be closer to work so we could savemoney and possibly purchase a home next year, but that's not goingto happen now," he said.
The biggest blow, he said, is losing his insurance benefits infour days. The way the payout is scheduled, he won't be able tocollect unemployment until the end of January.
DiDio said the guidelines on whether Uni-Solar was meeting thetax incentive requirements are clear and available to the publicthrough the MEDC. If the company meets the requirements, he said,they will continue to be eligible. If not, they won't get them.
He would not comment on future layoffs, but again said these aredifficult times and hard decisions and they appreciate thecontinued support from the Greenville community and hope torebound.
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