Whirlpool to lay off 730 at Ark. plant | VailDaily.com

Whirlpool to lay off 730 at Ark. plant

FORT SMITH, Ark. – Appliance maker Whirlpool Corp. announced Monday it plans to lay off 730 workers at its refrigerator plant in Fort Smith, Ark.Whirlpool said the workers would lose their jobs next October as the company opens a new plant in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico. Many of the layoffs would be voluntary and many workers are expected to be recalled within 18 months to fill openings that come about through attrition, the company said.The Fort Smith Whirlpool plant has 4,600 workers, and the company says it has hired nearly 800 new workers since 2003. The company says the rate at which new workers have been needed illustrates its anticipated time frame for hiring back laid-off workers.The plant makes side-by-side refrigerator-freezers, counter-depth refrigerators, trash compactors and ice makers.”We continue to strengthen and extend our manufacturing base in North America, specifically in the U.S. and Mexico, to better improve our operating platform and to continue to remain competitive,” Whirlpool executive vice president for the North America region David L. Swift said in a news release.Whirlpool served notice about two years ago that changes would come to the Fort Smith plant, saying some production would shift to Mexico. A year ago, Whirlpool reversed a plan to move ice-maker assembly – and 80 jobs – from Fort Smith to China.The company noted that it has made advances at a number of plants, including the start of production of new models and fast-fill water dispensers for its refrigerator-freezer line in Fort Smith.The company also said it completed its refrigerator plant at Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, and that 1,000 workers will staff the plant when it opens next year.Benton Harbor, Mich.-based Whirlpool has 68,000 workers among 50 sites worldwide. Whirlpool had revenues of more than $13 billion last year.Whirlpool is in the process of acquiring rival Maytag Corp., a deal that is now undergoing antitrust review and expected to close early next year. Its shares fell 9 cents to close at $83.76 Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.—On the Net: http://www.whirlpoolcorp.com

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