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No word on JLG layoffs

July 14, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Chambersburg

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - Until JLG Industries announces how many workers will be included in a layoff in September and how long they will be out of work, officials in Fulton and Franklin counties say all they can do is wait.

"We need to hear from the company before we know what services JLG employees will need," said Margaret Taylor, executive director of the Fulton Industrial Development Association.

In the meantime, association officials are meeting with human service agencies and employee training offices in the expectation that displaced workers may need retraining, more education or access to other services, Taylor said.

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A spokesman for JLG, which makes aerial lift platforms, said Monday it could be several weeks before the company knows how many workers will be affected.

The company, Fulton County's largest employer with more than 2,000 workers, announced plans last week for a major layoff between Sept. 8-19. Work hours also will be reduced before then.

"We're taking things as they go. There's no use getting ahead of yourself until you see what's going on," said Jack Fields, secretary/treasurer of McConnellsburg Borough.

Though the company's main plant sits outside of the borough, JLG operates a small facility in the borough where workers produce wiring harnesses for some of the hydraulic equipment, Fields said.

It is not known whether those workers will be affected. JLG officials would only say that most of the layoffs will be based on seniority.

The concern now is for the individuals who work at JLG who live in the borough and pay taxes, Fields said.

The layoff announcement doesn't come as a surprise to most who have witnessed hard times at the company in the past.

"We've weathered through it before, and we'll weather this one," said Ellis L. Yingling, Fulton County commissioner.

He said the subject will likely come up at the commissioners' meeting today but added that little can be done until more details are released.

"Really I don't know what the effect is going to be. But I'm sure it's going to have some effect in the financial world and in employment," Yingling said.

Franklin County Area Development Corporation President Michael Ross said his primary concern is that JLG's cutbacks will spread to other businesses.

"JLG subcontracts a lot of work around the region. As they cut back their production, they'll cut back their out-sourcing to machine shops and other businesses, which could lead to more layoffs," Ross said.

The layoff announcement means the company has identified its problems and is taking actions to correct them, Ross said.

"Hopefully this is going to be something of a temporary situation ... . Hopefully this will allow for the company to solidify its base, catch its breath, and gear up again for next year," he said.

JLG suffered financially during a recession in 1982 and didn't post a profit until 1985.

The manufacturer struggled again in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but gathered momentum through 1992 and 1993 and has remained strong ever since, Ross said.

In May, the company reported record financial figures in the first quarter, with $143.6 million in sales.

"We've been fortunate over the last several years that they've been doing as well as they have," Ross said.

In addition to the McConnellsburg plant and headquarters, the company also has plants in Fort Littleton and Bedford.

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