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Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is in the process of notifying approximately 1,300 production workers across its manufacturing facilities of potential layoffs.
On Tuesday, Freightliner employees told WBTV as many as 80 people could lose their jobs in Gastonia, possibly 400 in Mount Holly and up to 715 in Cleveland.
The North Carolina Department of Commerce states that there will be 485 temporary layoffs in Gaston County.
If the layoffs happen, the Freightliner Truck Plant Mt. Holly LLC Daimler could have 405 of those layoffs, while the Gastonia Components and Logistics LLC Daimler could have 80 layoffs.
The NCDOC also says 715 people could be temporarily laid off at the Freightliner Truck Plant Cleveland LLC, in Rowan County.
All 1,200 of these possible temporary layoffs are effective April 1, 2013.
"DTNA will make the final decision to lay off workers only after all other operational solutions are exhausted," the company told WBTV. "DTNA is cautiously optimistic that market conditions will improve throughout 2013."
The company says it will be ready to react to immediately recall workers impacted by the potential layoff, if conditions improve.
The company announced the layoffs in compliance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.
"The action was taken due to the present softening of economic conditions that has adversely impacted the entire North American commercial vehicle industry and if implemented will synchronize current production rates to incoming orders," company officials said.
"The adjustment will be spread amongst DTNA's production facilities and DTNA will utilize recall and new hire procedures to adjust staffing levels upward when business conditions warrant."
Donnie Hicks heads up Gaston County Office of Economic Development.
"I think it will again be a temporary move and that Freightliner will bounce back. They have a majority of the market in the U.S." Hicks told WBTV on Tuesday.
The plant did get a visit from President Barack Obama in recent months.
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) offers protection to workers, their families and communities by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs.
This notice must be provided to either affected workers or their representatives.
WARN also stipulates that if there is a mass layoff, which does not result from a plant closing, but which will result in an employment loss at the employment site during any 30-day period for 500 or more employees, or a third of the employer's active workforce, notice must be given.
Freightliner plants in Gastonia and Mount Holly reportedly employ approximately 2,900 people.
But behind the numbers there are real people and anxious families.
"When they lose their job it's like sand slipping through their fingers, they don't know what they're going to do next, they don't know how they're going to do it," said Philip Brown, the pastor at First Baptist Church in Cleveland. The potential lay-offs at Freightliner were a big topic at Wednesday night's prayer meeting. "Some people say I'm losing my job, how is God in that, and He is in that and we have to keep our eyes focused solely on Him."
Right now hundreds of workers in this plant also want to focus on keeping their jobs. The company says the economy is soft and orders didn't come through for the trucks they make here. In fact, CVG, a Statesville company that was a supplier to major truckmakers like Freightliner is closing down in May, eliminating 65 local jobs.
The workforce at the Freightliner plant, just a few miles down the road from CVG, is more than twice the population of the town that calls it home. Freightliner workers come from all over the area.
"A lot of us out here in Cleveland, Statesville, and Salisbury area have family working there," local landscaper Ron Collie told WBTV. "You know these people go to work everyday, all they ask for is a paycheck every week. They've got families to feed, when they go on unemployment it's going to take away a lot of the money and stuff is going to get real hard on the families."
The local North Carolina Department of Commerce Job Link office in Salisbury isn't waiting to see if the lay-offs take place, they're already working to help potentially displaced workers.
"It would be nice if the layoff doesn't happen after all," Manager Debra Davis said. "But on the chance that it could, we're planning to go out with some of our partners like the community college and others to talk about ways we might can offer some assistance."
Freightliner says it hopes for improvement this year as companies replace aging trucks with the new models. Until then, workers will hope, and pray, that their jobs will still be here in the months ahead.
"The folks around here have been through it numerous times with lay offs and call backs things like that they're strong, this community will get through it," Reverend Brown added.