Freightliner to lay off 1,500 at North Carolina plant

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Freightliner plans to lay off about 1,500 workers at its truck plant in Cleveland, N.C. — more than half the plant’s work force — in early June, company officials told the Charlotte Observer April 3.

Freightliner’s cuts would take effect June 6, when operations are reduced from two shifts a day to one, the Observer reported. Freightliner spokeswoman Amy Sills said in a statement Thursday, April 3, that the layoffs could be canceled if the market recovers enough by June to support two shifts at the plant.

A division of German-based Daimler AG, Freightliner is one of Rowan County’s largest employers, according to the Observer; the Cleveland plant — which is about 40 miles north of Charlotte — employs about 2,900 and has seen production drop along with demand for new trucks in response to new diesel emissions standards that raised prices.

The Portland, Ore.-based company historically has laid off and brought workers back based on sales; the company laid off about 1,200 workers a year ago when it went from three shifts to two, the Observer reported; it had announced plans for another 1,500 cuts in April 2007, but later backed off those plans after striking an agreement with the United Auto Workers.