[Source: Inland Valley Daily Bulletin] About 840 employees at an Ashley Furniture HomeStore factory/warehouse in Colton were laid off Friday.
“They told us to go into a meeting, and all of a sudden they tried to feed us and they said, ‘You know what, there’s no more jobs,” said Israel Naja, 37, outside the store at 855 Ashley Way, where fellow employees arrived to collect their final paychecks and commiserate.
Employees said they were asked to show up at either the National Orange Show Events Center in San Bernardino or the Riverside Convention Center on Friday morning at 7 a.m. The meeting, in which the employees were told they would be laid off, lasted about five minutes.
Naja said he received a letter by FedEx Thursday telling him the warehouse — where love seats and sofas also were assembled — was closed.
The retail store is to remain open, however, and the distribution center in Redlands was unaffected by Friday’s news.
“We cannot let companies like Ashley bleed the American dream,” Naja said. “It’s not only the employees, but the families, the kids, the wives. They’ve got wives with medical situations and things like that. There’s no way a huge company like Ashley’s can shut down the doors.”
Another former employee, Juan Zuniga, 36, said he is the only breadwinner for his family, with three kids.
“I feel sorry for every single one of our family,” Zuniga said. “This is my family. I’ve been here more than in my home. I’ve spent 10 to 12 hours working in there.”
Roselia Serrano, 40, of Colton, also is the sole income provider for her family with two teenagers. She said Friday was the first time the workers were informed of the layoffs.
“Right now, I’m in shock. My head is spinning and I don’t know what’s going to be my next step,” Serrano said. “I know we have to look for another job.”
Zuniga said he and other workers are organizing a Labor Day protest in front of the store.
“We’re going to be here making a protest and we’re calling everybody that can come to please support us and find out what they did to us,” Zuniga said. “Come and support all the hard-working employees and parents that take income to their house. I’m the only one supporting my family. I’m the only one paying a mortgage.”
In a statement, the company said it gave the employees 60 days’ notice and complied with federal regulations governing layoffs.
“We thank our employees for all their hard work, but closing these plants on Oct. 25 and rebalancing our manufacturing mix strengthens production capability and cost structure and will help ensure Ashley’s continued ability to compete effectively long-term in the global marketplace from a U.S. base,” the company said in the statement.
The majority of production in Colton will move to U.S. plants in Wisconsin, Mississippi and North Carolina, “where we can tap into existing capacity and increase efficiency,” the statement continued.
“By shifting the majority of Colton production to other U.S. facilities we will create more efficiency and better use of existing capacity in our manufacturing network,” the Ashley statement read.
Source: Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
August 28, 2016