States Industries Cuts Back Workforce
Byline: Sherri Buri McDonald The Register-Guard
States Industries, a Eugene wood products company, laid off about 10 percent of its 331-person workforce on Monday, according to one of the laid-off employees, Damon Wilson.
Wilson said he asked for a written layoff notice and received one that stated "To whom it may concern, due to economic conditions on Nov. 11, 2013, there were curtailments made at States Industries. Unfortunately, Damon Wilson was one whose position was curtailed due to lack of work."
Company President Mike Taylor was traveling and could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Wilson said he asked company representatives if the failure to secure steep anti-dumping tariffs on imported Chinese plywood was the reason for the layoffs and was told it was "part of the issue."
States Industries, which makes hardwood panels for cabinets, furniture and other products,
is part of the Coalition for Fair Trade of Hardwood Plywood, an industry group that in September 2012 filed an unfair trade petition with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission and sought steep new tariffs on Chinese imports.
The U.S. Department of Commerce had determined that the Chinese plywood was subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value. But the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled in early November that the Chinese products didn't injure U.S. industry, so no anti-dumping duties would be issued.
The United States imported $829 million worth of hardwood plywood from China last year, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission.
The layoffs at States Industries came as a surprise to employees, who said they recently received raises and had been told that States Industries would be expanding production.
"Two or three weeks ago we had a huge company meeting," said Wilson, 37, who had been part of the States Industries' "flex pool" - an in-house temporary pool - for the past three months. "They said things are looking up for the company, and everyone was getting a raise. My wage went from $9.80 to $13 an hour. They said the company is going to expand and go to 24 hours a day. They said there was an issue with a tariff, and if that went through, they would be able to expand and sell wood in the United States. Instead, it went the other way, and now China has the upper hand."
Like many wood products companies, States Industries has struggled in recent years. The company sought reorganization protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in 2010, after years of losses. …