2009-01-29 / Front Page

JLG Wipes Out 100 White- Collar Positions

Rest of nonproduction gets unpaid leave
By Lindsay R. Mellott STAFF WRITER

JLG Industries told another 100 employees last week that they would lose their jobs, bringing the total number of workers cut from the manufacturer's payrolls over the last six months to 1,500.

The latest layoff was announced last Tuesday and affects only nonproduction personnel. It is JLG's fourth downsizing since the company first announced, in July 2007, that it would trim its workforce around the globe. That layoff of 600 employees was followed by a second, announced in late August, which released 220 more and a third layoff, totaling 500, employees, in late November.

The four downsizings have come in response to a crumbling global economy that has sapped demand both here and abroad for JLG products.

JLG continues to decline to say how many of the laid-off workers were employed at its McConnellsburg plant. Spokesperson Kirsten Skyba, vice president of global marketing, on Friday, would say, however, that the 1,500 number represents a third of JLG's global workforce.

Nonproduction workers were singled out in this round of layoffs because production workers had been affected by the previous layoffs, and because JLG, at this time, according to Skyba, is able to manage production by adjusting manufacturing schedules as market conditions affect demand.

In November, Skyba told the "News" that the three previous layoffs had "largely eliminated our second and third shifts."

Skyba also said on Friday that JLG is requiring all North American nonproduction personnel to take a weeklong unpaid leave sometime during the company's fiscal second quarter, which runs Jan. 1 through March 31. The furlough was imposed, she said, in the hope of minimizing future workforce reductions.

The mandatory furloughs include JLG executives.

"As painful as something like this is," Skyba said, "we hope they (the furloughs) reduce the likelihood of continued reductions."

Skyba says that JLG is continually looking at different ways to manage the challenges created by reduced demand for its products.

On Monday, heavy equipment maker Caterpillar announced that it is slashing 20,000 jobs from its payrolls, including employees, contract and agency workers, and lowering sales and profit expectations for 2009 after reporting a 32-percent plunge in its fourth-quarter profit.

In late 2005 Caterpillar entered into a global alliance with JLG Industries to produce a full lineup of Cat-branded telehandlers. Skyba could not be reached on Tuesday to ask how, or if, Caterpillar's massive downsizing will affect the JLG alliance.

Oshkosh Corp., JLG's parent company, announces its fiscal 2009 first-quarter earnings Jan. 29.

Besides McConnellsburg, JLG has facilities in Shippensburg and Bedford, Pa.; Ohio; North Dakota; Belgium; France; and Romania. JLG and Oshkosh announced construction of a new manufacturing plant in Tianjin, China, in November.

Skyba says the schedule to complete the Chinese plant is on track, with production still expected to begin in 2010.

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