Nearly 100 employees at Haynes International have been laid off involuntarily and “many more” have been laid off voluntarily in the last week.
Haynes International, which produces high-performance alloys used mostly in the aerospace sector, has struggled with demand during the pandemic, resulting in a lack of business, according to Dave Tocco, president of United Steelworkers 2958.
“It’s slow. People are laid off,” Tocco said. “I mean with this COVID stuff, it’s slow. A big chunk of our business is aerospace, and it’s no secret no one is flying. So, airlines aren’t buying new jetliners, and we make a bunch of alloy for that product. Because the build schedule is next to nothing, it’s having an effect on our business. The COVID is having a big effect on our business.”
In total, as of last week, 91 employees were involuntarily laid off, Tocco said, and more, though he couldn’t give a number, were laid off voluntarily.
At the start of the pandemic, Haynes was one of the first Kokomo factories to announce temporary shutdowns due to the COVID-19 crisis. In March, Haynes announced that the majority of workers would be sent home in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In April, the majority of those workers returned.
However, the decline in business has resulted in continued layoffs.
According to Tocco, Haynes International forged a voluntary layoff agreement with USW 2958 and agreed to pay the health benefits of the workers who volunteer to stop working.
“Since they brought new management on, the relationship has gotten a lot better,” Tocco said. “I don’t think before they brought these guys on that the company wouldn’t have shown the will to sit down and negotiate a voluntary layoff agreement. We actually threw a bunch of stuff out there. I’d say the voluntary layoff was just as much their idea as it was ours, to try to keep people on the payroll.
“They did pay the benefits; they didn’t have to do that. They are paying the voluntary layoff premiums until Aug. 31. Even actually Haynes, even though they have to pay insurance for a month after you’re laid off, usually you have to pay premiums. This time they didn’t even make these people pay premiums.”
Tocco said he hopes to see business pickup soon.
“I mean, people aren’t flying because of this virus. Until people start flying again and airlines start buying new jets, it’s going to have an effect on our business. We’re just trying to keep people working. It’s tough times. Both the union and the company agreed to a voluntary layoff agreement,.” he said.
Tocco was unsure when Haynes International employees would be able to return to work.