Jobs impact: Coronavirus layoffs begin in earnest across Ohio

Fuyao Glass America, Thor Industries, others join roster executing layoffs

Layoffs are beginning in earnest across the state.

In the past approximately 24 hours, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services made public several WARN notices outlining nearly 1,350 layoffs across Ohio. That number will likely rise.

Fuyao Glass America — the Moraine auto glass manufacturer founded by a Chinese billionaire industrialist six years ago — is pulling back from most production work as Ohio comes to grips with the state’s “stay at home” order.

Other auto parts manufacturers, such as Murotech Ohio Corp. in St. Marys, are doing likewise.

Auto glass producer Fuyao says it is offering assistance to some employees who find themselves in financial straits.

“Fuyao Glass America operated a skeleton crew today (Monday) to prepare our operation to go down until April 5 under the advisement of (the) Ohio executive order,” an email to the Dayton Daily News from a Fuyao human resources executive says. “We will only have a small group of employees onsite to maintain the necessary equipment, to complete customer commitments and to perform other essential business operations.”

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RV makers Thor Industries Inc. based in Elkhart, Ind. (with operations in West Central Ohio) and Iowa-based Winnebago Industries Inc. both said they will suspend North American operations.

Thor's move affects Shelby County's Airstream, which has more than 900 workers.

Thor President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Martin expressed optimism in a statement that the company will bounce back.

"We believe the long-term RV market will be robust once again, and when that time comes, we will take advantage of our flexible business model to quickly resume production to meet dealer orders," Martin said.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued a “stay at home” order Sunday affecting “non-essential” businesses. Though manufacturers of products necessary for pharmaceutical, technology, biotechnology, healthcare and other areas may remain open, many others are closing, particularly with domestic auto production having largely ceased in recent days.

“We will continue to have security and the safety departments present to ensure the safety of this small group of employees while they are working onsite,” continued the email from Leslie O’Hara, Fuyao assistant human resources director.

“During these uncertain times, we are doing all we can to take care of our employees,” the email continued.

Fuyao said employees who do not have pay and benefits “at a rate richer than what they would get with unemployment and COBRA” could receive assistance from the Heren USA Foundation, Fuyao Global’s charitable arm.

The funding “offers additional assistance to qualified FGA employees who are in financial difficulties,” Fuyao said. “We hope that our business will be back to normal as soon as possible. We will continue to share information with our employees as there are new developments.”

Fuyao founder Cho Tak Wong created Fuyao Glass America in a shuttered General Motors plant off West Stroop Road in early 2014. The auto glass manufacturer has more than 2,300 workers.

Late Monday, Norcold Inc., which has operations in Sidney, filed a WARN (Worker Adjustment Retraining Act Notice) letter with Ohio government. In Sidney, 224 of 265 employees will be laid off, the company told the state.

In Gettysburg Ohio, about 120 of 137 employees will be laid off, the business said.

Norcold makes refrigerators.

Murotech Ohio Corp. will layoff 52 workers in St. Marys, that company said in its own WARN notice.

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