Rheem announces Fort Smith layoffs


FORT SMITH — Rheem Manufacturing will lay off 75 to 100 hourly employees at its Fort Smith plant effective Jan. 13, a company spokesman announced Thursday.

Rheem’s corporate office in Atlanta said the layoffs are the result of “seasonal adjustments in volume,” noting they are “consistent with annual staffing changes at this time of year.”

Rheem announced the layoff of about 50 employees Oct. 30, also citing seasonal adjustment as the reason.

In January, 60 workers were cut from production in another seasonal work force adjustment.

Lindsey Ford, senior public relations specialist for Rheem, declined to provide a current employee count at the local Rheem facility. She said as a privately held company, Rheem does not release “hard employment figures.”

“Considering the cyclical nature of today’s HVAC manufacturing environment — and the fact we are constantly adjusting staffing needs to remain competitive — the employee headcount fluctuates regularly,” Ford said.

At the time of the January layoffs, local plant officials put the employment total at 1,195.

Ford said employees affected by Thursday’s announcement will receive medical and dental insurance 60 days beyond termination.

“They will also be eligible for a recall when manufacturing patterns shift,” she said. “Rheem is constantly evaluating its employment needs for competitiveness, and we will make staffing modifications as market conditions change. With that, there is a possibility that we’ll have the opportunity to recall employees in the future.”

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Rusty Garrett writes for the Times Record in Fort Smith.