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Tower lays off 11 salaried employees

Tower Automotive Inc. laid off 11 members of the Corydon plant’s salaried staff this month. A company source who did not wish to be identified said the layoffs are part of a one-time restructuring of salaried staff. The source said he did not yet know whether reductions to hourly staff would be necessary.
The automotive parts company supplies frames for Ford Motor Co.’s Explorers and holds a contract to continue doing so through 2006. Tower withdrew from bidding on a new Explorer contract in December when company officials said they could not make enough money on the parts, casting doubt on the future of the huge Corydon plant.
The lay-offs have again raised speculation about the plant.
While he said the lack of work beyond 2006 would add credence to rumors concerning the plant’s closure, and while he did not know if the plant would remain open, the company source said, ‘We are in an extremely good location for servicing other automotive manufacturers. Work force, location of facility, a lot of these things are in our favor.’
The 11 employees who were laid off are looking for other reassurance.
‘I rely on the strength of the Lord to carry me through, and I can do all things through him that gives me strength,’ said Zane Elliot, a facilities engineer with Tower since 1991, when asked if the lay-off had been difficult.
Those interviewed complained of short notice and some complained of inadequate severance pay, but all said they could not comment on the specifics of their severance package. It’s based on years of experience and pay rate.
‘I can’t divulge what my severance was, but it wasn’t suitable,’ said Forrest Menzing, who had been with Tower since November 2000.
The company source would not say how much notice was given, only that it was standard. ‘In any case, the severance makes up for the notice,’ he said, adding that too much notice could indirectly burden those workers who would remain employed by Tower.
Another employee, a computer network administrator, was terminated when a list of 17 individuals, including those who were laid off, circulated before notice of the impending cuts was given. John Keith of Lanesville, who had been with Tower for 12 years, relied on his income as the sole support for his wife and two children.
Keith’s job responsibilities included the upkeep and integrity of the computer network.
He conceded that the limited access file could have mistakenly been available to unauthorized individuals. ‘Or someone printed the list and left it laying around,’ he said.
In either case, ‘I didn’t know the list existed,’ Keith said.
As a personnel matter, company officials could not comment on Keith’s termination.