A television station, WEAU 13 News, allegedly misreported in an article posted on May 21 that temporary season layoffers at JELD-WEN’s Hawkins, Wis., were going to become permanent. Terri Cline, director of corporate communications, commented on the misinformation.”Hawkins had implemented a series of temporary layoffs since January 19, 2009, affecting at total of 247 employees. This means these affected employees have not been scheduled workshifts, but continue to be employees of the company and eligible for benefits for a period of time, while being eligible to collect unemployment. The letter JELD-WEN sent to employees and government agencies, as required by law, did not state that employees on layoff will be terminated. We believe this inaccuracy was reported because the term ‘mass layoff’ was understood as ‘termination,’ which is a false conclusion. ‘Layoff’ and “termination” are two different employment actions.

Cline said that due to the building products industry’s current conditions that that employees on layoff today will return to work before the typical six-month milestone.

“Our customary practice is that laid-off employees who have not been re-called to active employment after six months are subject to termination under our six-month neutral termination policy. For our unionized employees, the Collective Bargaining Agreement provides for a similar six-month recall period, after which employees must be terminated. However, JELD-WEN chose to extend this six-month period to nine months for Hawkins employees, and has proposed a similar extension to the union representing our unionized employees. We took these actions to demonstrate our hope that by the end of September we could return as many laid-off employees as possible to active work. We can’t promise that we will be able to do so, but that is our desire if business conditions improve,” Cline states.

Even though JELD-Wen extended its internal timeframe from six to nine months, the federal Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification (WARN) Act and Wisconsin law require companies to send a notice to employees and various government agencies indicating a notice of “mass layoff” if 50 or more employees (constituting at least 33 percent of the location’s workforce) have been affected.

“The term ‘mass layoff’ is a legal term. It is not JELD-WEN’s term,” Cline says. “The law further requires notice to be delivered 60 days prior to the six-month milestone, even though in JELD-WEN’s case, the six-month date should not result in terminations.”

Cline adds, “In our notice to employees, we stressed that the WARN notice is required by law and must be given now, and does not mean that their employment with JELD-WEN is permanently ending. There are still several hundred employees actively working at the plant, building windows and doors to meet the current levels of demand.”

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