MOUNT HOLLY – For the third time in four years, Daimler trucks will lay off workers at Freightliner plants in North Carolina, including one President Obama visited last March.
The company will temporarily lay off a total of 1,200 people, including 715 in Rowan County, 405 in Mount Holly and 80 in Gastonia.
"We were very sad and very surprised to hear about this layoff," said Linda Greer, vice president for economic and workforce development at Gaston College.
In a statement, Daimler Trucks North America said, in part:
The action was taken due to the present softening of economic conditions that has adversely impacted the entire North American commercial vehicle industry." The company said it's optimistic those conditions will improve later in the year.
Gaston College offers free work training programs to people who have been laid off.
"They're a wide range from application skills, interviewing skills, computer skills," said Greer.
But the college has had trouble getting some workers to take advantage of the programs, especially with Freightliner layoffs in the past.
By calling this a "temporary" closure, the company sends a signal that it could re-hire the laid off employees.
"The people are always hopeful that they're going to be called back and they do not really want to make some long term commitments," said Greer.
Now, the college hopes to reach workers early, making sure they know there are other options and pathways to new careers.
"We actually go to the employees at the plant before they get laid off and let them know about their options," Greer said.
The layoffs will take effect by April 1.