Colbert County employer laying off large number of workers

COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. - A major employer in Northwest Alabama has considerably reduced their number of employees this week. Freightcar America says they have let dozens of workers go along their production line in Colbert County.

FreightCar America is one of the Shoals largest employers. Company officials say they were forced to layoff almost 20 percent of their workforce this week. Freightcar America announced the layoffs to their employees on Monday. 145 production department workers, who are mostly welders, are now off the job.

David Benson, vice president of human resources for the Colbert County plant, says a lull in orders forced them to decrease personnel.

650 employees will continue to work in the mile-long plant.

This is the first major layoff by Freightcar America since they began manufacturing rail cars in Northwest Alabama. Benson says in the railcar industry there are many peaks and valley’s – and right now, they are unfortunately in one of the low spots.

Over the last several years, Benson says they have made substantial improvements to their quality and productivity. Freightcar America is also working to diversify their product line in Colbert County to increase demand. Company officials state they are hopeful all employees who were laid off this week will be called back to work within six months.

David Benson says FreightCar America is committed to the Shoals and their future plans will help put them on solid ground.

The Alabama Department Of Labor is holding two emergency rapid response informational meetings this week for employees affected by the layoffs.

They will be held Thursday at 5 p.m. and Friday at 10 a.m in Building 110 on the Northwest Shoals Community College campus.

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