Figure could top 200 Briggs to lay off more than 100 in August

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Briggs & Stratton Corporation announced earlier this week layoffs impacting potentially hundreds of area jobs will take effect in mid-August.

Rick Carpenter, vice president of marketing and communication in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, confirmed Wednesday the layoffs target "a mix of Briggs employees and contracted help."

"Yes, we have announced some layoffs," Carpenter said. "Eliminating positions is not our first choice, but is necessary to reconfigure our workforce to meet our production demands and forecast."

Carpenter said Thursday an estimated 100 contracted workers is "fairly close" to the actual amount the company is letting go.

"Thirty-five percent are contracted employees and the remainder are Briggs employees," he said.

Official numbers are not being released at this time, according to Carpenter, who said he plans to "keep comments limited." The reconfiguration, he added, is not tariff-related.

Carpenter's figures indicate this could impact nearly 200 regular Briggs & Stratton employees. The layoffs are scheduled to take effect Aug. 17.

Carpenter said the company did not file paperwork with Missouri's Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act, which protects employees and their families by requiring companies with more than 100 workers to provide at least 60-days advance notification of mass layoffs.

"We did not file a WARN notice," he said. "The requirement for filing a WARN notice are different than what we're doing here."

Carpenter said companies are not required to file a WARN notice if the number of individuals being laid off is less than 33 percent of its total regular workforce, as is, he said, the case for the local facility.

Estimated numbers predict the layoff percentage is around the 21 percent mark for regular employees, according to figures provided by the Greater Poplar Bluff Area Chamber of Commerce.

According to the Chamber, Briggs & Stratton is the second largest employer in Poplar Bluff and Butler County, behind Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center. The small-engine manufacturer employed about 900 at the Chamber's last count.

The contracted workers impacted by the company's decision are not clients of Express Employment Professionals, said owner Tyler Lance.

Representatives from Productive Staffing declined comment.

In 2012, the Poplar Bluff factory celebrated a milestone of 70 million engines manufactured.

In 2013, the Briggs & Stratton Corporation invested $36 million in remodeling work, new machines and equipment in its Poplar Bluff plant. Officials with the company said demand for small engines was expected to rise due to an improving housing market and smaller areas with drought problems.

In 2014, local workers celebrated Poplar Bluff's 75th million engine and 25th anniversary.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: