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By MARIAN GALBRAITH
TE Connectivity, formerly known as Deutsch Industrial Products, has announced it will close some part of its facility at 509 Airpark Dr. in Tullahoma next month, affecting roughly 33 employees.
Combined with the previous layoffs announced in October of an additional 33 employees, company spokespersons are saying that a total of 66 regular employees, plus as many as 20 temporary workers, will have been laid off by the end of March as a result of last year’s acquisition of the company.
According to a letter to Tullahoma Mayor Lane Curlee dated Jan. 25, 2013, from Jane A. Leopold, senior vice president of global human resources with TE Connectivity in Harrisburg, Pa., it appeared the entire facility would be closing and would affect as many as 33 employees.
“This is to inform you that TE Connectivity will unfortunately close its facilities located at 509 Airport Drive, Tullahoma, Tennessee,” the letter read.
“Separations are expected to begin on or around March 15, 2013, and continue on March 29, 2013.
“The action may affect as many as 33 employees, although the exact number and timing has yet to be determined.”
Curlee told The Tullahoma News on Monday he was greatly saddened by the letter.
“This is an absolute shame, and I feel for these employees,” Curlee said. “This is one of the down-sides of being a global corporation, I guess, that the jobs and resources can be moved around like this.
Fortunately, Curlee said, there are state programs in place, such as the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which can help find new jobs for the 33 employees.
Later that afternoon, however, senior communications manager Thomas Peacock from TE Connectivity in Harrisburg told a different story from what was written in Leopold’s letter to Curlee.
“Actually, only part of the facility will be closing and only 23 employees will be affected,” Peacock said, adding that he had no information on whether the 23 employees would receive placement assistance or other benefits.
While efforts to contact local facilities manager Rick Crutcher were unsuccessful, Ted Hackney, chairman of the Coffee County Joint Industrial Board, said he has never really known how many people were employed at the former Deutsch Industrial because they had never disclosed it to him.
“We publish a directory of manufacturers in our industrial parks each year, with the name, address, type of industry, number of employees and other factors on each firm,” Hackney said, “but Deutsch never would report the number of employees they had, for whatever reason, even after they were bought by TE.”
Local and non-local officials from both Deutsch and TE declined to go on record with any employee information, deferring instead to Peacock.
However, according to a previous News article published on Oct. 2, the total number of employees reported by the same spokesman, Tom Peacock, was much higher at that time than the numbers he gave on Monday of this week.
In October, Peacock stated that 33 people had been affected out of a total 228, leaving 195 still employed locally. If only 142 will remain as of next month, this would imply that a grand total of 86 employees will have been affected between the two separate actions following the buyout.
When Peacock was contacted again on Tuesday to clarify the numbers, he apologized for the confusion but stated that both scenarios were true.
“The earlier numbers were correct; there were 33 regular employees affected at that time, out of 228,” he said, “and this time it’s another 33 regular employees, not 23, out of 165.”
Asked what had happened to the remaining 20 or so employees in between, however, Peacock said he was not entirely sure.
“The higher number may have included the ‘flex-force’ employees,” he said, “which are temporary workers who are hired at various times of the year, depending on demand.
“This is probably what a lot of the remaining employees were, plus there may have been some regular employees lost through attrition.”
He added that “hopefully” some of the current 33 employees being affected could be retained and transferred to positions in the other building, but he was not sure how many that might be.
“If they can’t be placed in the other building and have to be let go,” he said, “they will definitely receive severance pay, continuation of health coverage and outplacement services.”
Marian Galbraith can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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